MANILA, Philippines – Public outrage against the pork barrel scam first erupts on social media, getting critical mass and snowballing into a full-blown street protest.
Paterno Esmaquel reports.
(Watch Rappler’s video report below.)
(The script of the video report follows)
This is what a Facebook post can do.
Luneta turns into a sea of white, with 70,000 Filipinos protesting corruption.
Protesters slam the alleged misuse of the pork barrel – 3 days after President Benigno Aquino proposes to abolish it in its current form.
No single leader directs the crowdsourced rally.
Peachy Bretaña, one of the 3 persons who started the Million People March, says it is a modern display of leadership.
PEACHY BRETAÑA, CO-ORGANIZER: ‘Yung sinasabi nilang leaderless, hindi po ‘to leaderless. Leaderful! (What they call leaderless isn’t leaderless. It’s leaderful!) We can all be leaders.
The traditional leaders follow the crowd.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle adds weight to the people’s protest. On August 26, National Heroes’ Day, the cardinal prays for heroism.
LUIS ANTONIO CARDINAL TAGLE, MANILA ARCHBISHOP: ‘Pag sinabi nating bayanihan, sabay-sabay maging bayani. Inaanyayahan ko po ang lahat na tingnan, dinggin, at mahalin ang mga dukha at naghihirap bilang mga kapwa at kapatid. Ating damahin ang tibok na puso ng ating bayan… Patunayan po natin na marangal ang Pilipino. (When we say “bayanihan,” it means we should all be heroes. I invite you all to see, hear, and love the poor and the destitute as neighbors and brothers. Let us feel the pulse of our country… Let us prove the Filipino has dignity.)
The rally becomes the biggest under the Aquino administration.
PATERNO ESMAQUEL, REPORTING: Unlike other big rallies, the Million People March doesn’t dwell on specific personalities. It’s driven by anger toward a systemic problem – the pork barrel system. It’s a sign of maturity for a country stuck in personality politics.
Comedienne Mae Paner, Juana Change on social media, says the protest shows a change in consciousness.
MAE PANER A.K.A. “JUANA CHANGE”, SOCIAL MEDIA ARTIST: Itong event na ‘to, I think, ay patunay ng pagbabago ng consciousness na ‘yan, at tingnan natin kung saan ito makakarating. Puwede namang pagkatapos nito, wala na, balik-balik na tayo sa dati nating mga buhay, and then parang walang nangyari. (This event, I think, is proof of this change in consciousness. Let’s see where this leads us. It could be that after this, it’s all over, and we will all return to our ways of life, and pretend nothing like this happened.)
The Luneta rally shows the Internet’s huge influence on protest in the Philippines, moving it away from organized militant groups to netizens.
JIM PAREDES, SINGER/SONGWRITER: I would really like to see this as the start of many changes. It’s time. Nagulat lang ako na ngayon lang tayo nagalit. It took us so long to get angry but never too late.
JOSE JAVIER REYES, DIRECTOR: Hindi ito rebolusyon. Hindi ito, “Itaob ang pamahalaan.” Ito ay simpleng paghingi ng paliwanang kung ano ang nangyari at simpleng pag-demand ng solusyon sa problema na tinatawag na PDAF. (This is not a revolution. This is not a move to oust government. This is simply the people asking for an explanation and a solution to the problem of pork.)
A preview of the power of social media to transform online anger into real collective action.
Paterno Esmaquel, Rappler, Manila.