MANILA, Philippines – The leftist Makabayan bloc on Monday, August 26, said that their representatives in Congress will not be using their discretionary funds for the remainder of 2013 to challenge Aquino to do the same with the President’s Social Fund (PSF).
“It is fundamentally important to send a clear message to the president and to the public na talagang ayaw na ng Makabayan sa (that the Makabayan bloc doesn’t want the) pork barrel system, that we don’t need it,” said Kabataan Party-list Rep Terry Ridon to Rappler.
Asked where his group’s discretionary funds go, the lawmaker said it is spent on projects for the poor and scholarships for young people.
The Makabayan bloc has 7 elected representatives in Congress through the pary-list system: Ridon for Kabataan, Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana De Jesus for Gabriela, Atty Neri Colmenares and Atty Carlos Isagani Zarate for Bayan Muna, Fernando Hicap for Anakpawis, and Antonio Tinio for ACT Teachers.
Willing to forego their pork barrel funds, the representatives will instead push for laws that allocate greater state subsidy for the interests their party-list groups are protecting.
Ridon said a higher budget allocated for education would address the need for lawmakers to fund scholarships for specific students, saying this breeds patronage.
On Monday, August 26, rallyists broke new ground when at least 50,000 congregated at the Luneta park for the abolition of pork barrel and the effective prosecution of all offiicals who misused their pork barrel funds.
Pork barrel funds are budget items that government officials have the power to direct the manner, place, and time of disbursement. They are meant for projects and services initiated by an elected official that enhance the living conditions of their constituents.
The recent scandal of government officials allegedly channelling their pork barrel funds to fake non-governmental organizations with nothing but ghost projects to show for has yet again raised the issue of abolishing the pork barrel.
The group of rallyists in Luneta for the system’s abolition came from different sectors with different advocacies. The crowd dispersed at 2 PM.
But the radical Left said the issue must be brought right at the feet of the Presidential Palace.
Marching to the historic Mendiola street after the Luneta rally, Leftist protesters condemned President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III for his soft stance of simply reforming the system of granting discretionary funds to lawmakers, instead of abolishing it.
“Ang nais lang naman natin eh simbolikong dalhin ang ating mga demands dito sa paanan ng Mendiola dahil nandito yung luklukan ng kapangyarihan,” said former Bayan Muna Party-list Rep Teddy Casiño.
(What we desire is to symbolically bring our demands at the feet of Mendiola, because herein is the seat of power.)
Activist Nato Reyes said the president’s pork should also be investigated and abolished, adding that it is not true that the pork barrel system has only been abused during past administrations.
“If we are to be consistent, if we want the abolition of congressional pork, we have to stand also for the abolition of presidential pork… It is time he (Aquino) do something beyond rhetorics and fake abolition of pork,” said Reyes. – Rappler.com