#ScrapPork groups: Channel funds to grassroots

Buena Bernal
Veteran activist Sonny Melencio says it's about time to put to good use grassroots institutions

PROTEST. Marchers from a Makati City mall arrive at Ayala Avenue, the #ScrapPork protest area. Photo by Buena Bernal/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Should the pork barrel be abolished, government funds can be channelled directly to people who will decide on how it will be best spent.

In his speech during the #ScrapPork protest at Ayala held on Friday, October 4, veteran activist Sonny Melencio said it’s about time to put to good use barangay (village) assemblies.

These assemblies are grassroots institutions established by virtue of the Local Government Code (LGC).

He said that even barangay councils have been corrupted, such that they have become part of the political machinery of local executives.

Under the law, the barangay assembly is composed of actual barangay residents who:

  • have resided in the barangay for at least 6 months
  • are 15 years of age or over
  • are citizens of the Philippines, and 
  • are duly registered in the list of barangay assembly members.
The LGC mandates the assembly to meet at least twice a year.
 
Melencio added that this is the system in place in countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, and Cuba.

Bakit hindi natin ibababa talaga sa ibaba? Kasi sa ibababa talaga, hindi mananakaw yan… Alisin na natin ang mga elite institutions. Buhayin natin ang grassroots institutions,” he said in an interview after his speech.

(Why don’t we bring it to the ground? There, funds won’t be corrupted… Let’s take out the elite institutions out of the picture and use grassroots intstitutions instead.)

Not just the system

Jun Lozada, the whistleblower of the NBN-ZTE scam, said that it’s not just a matter of reforming the system. 

Sa akin (For me), it’s not the system of distribution [of funds]. It’s the honesty… Bottomline, we need truthful people in government,” he said.

Lozada was also one of the speakers in the MillionPeopleMarch rally in Makati.

Retired archbishop Oscar Cruz echoed Lozada’s sentiment.

Ang alternatibong paraan ay kahit anong paraan bastat matuwid lamang. Alam mo kasi marami kang puedeng gawing kung anu-ano… Pero kapag ang mga namahala diyan eh hangal ang bituka, wala ring mangyayari,” he said in an interview. 

(The alternative [to the pork barrel system] is any means as long as it is upright. There are a lot of possible alternatives… But if the ones who govern remain greedy, nothing will happen.)

Not official demands

Patricia Tan, spokesperson of the #ScrapPork network, clarified that these proposed alternatives to pork barrel are not endorsed by the entire network officially.

She added, however, that neither does the network condemn the recommendations issued by its member-groups.

The network also clarified earlier that they are not calling for the impeachment or resignation of President Benigno Aquino III.

Differences in background and political leaning notwithstanding, members and member-groups of the #ScrapPork network have managed to consolidate a list of 8 demands for the government to execute– Rappler.com 

 

Missed the day’s action? Check out the live blog here.

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