This morning, I, along with thousands of Filipinos in Manila and across the Philippines, participated in a gathering to express our anger and indignation against the wanton greed that has gripped the government. In the past weeks, local media headlined what was supposed to be a shocking revelation: how our Senators and Congressmen misused their 10-billion pesos worth of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or infamously known as pork barrel by siphoning them through ghost NGOs and transactions. One person who allegedly benefited from this corruption was a private citizen named Janet Lim Napoles who made up at least 10 fictitious NGOs which received billions of pork money from the lawmakers and used them instead to enrich her family. Social media was teeming with pictures and videos of Napoles' daughter living a high life in the U.S. allegedly using taxpayers' money.
Calls have been made to investigate the alleged corruption but the Philippine Congress and even no less than the President himself dilly-dallied in their decision of investigating their fellow politicians. Fed up by this apparent lack of action and conviction, the public planned to express their outrage by marching to the Luneta Park, a National Park where a monument to the National Hero, Jose Rizal, marks the place of his death. Days before the planned rally, which spawned from spontaneous calls made by private citizens through facebook and twitter, President Noynoy Aquino declared his change of heart and decided that the pork barrel of the lawmakers be abolished, retaining only his own presidential pork barrel (discretionary fund). But it was already too late for the people. What the people want is to abolish the pork barrel entirely and make sure that those who are guilty of misusing the funds must be prosecuted and be brought to justice.
Despite the bad weather, we went to Luneta Park, armed with nothing except our jackets and umbrellas, and stood on muddy ground along with thousands of protesters. We shouted our frustration. We vented our disappointment. We signed the petition. It is time that this President, who stands on the platform of transparency and truth, must walk the talk.
The mood in the Park was more festive. All kinds of people were there: rich, poor, middle class, professionals, unemployed, people from the left, the right, laity, religious and even the cynics. This time, everyone was shouting the same shout: No To Pork! No To Pork!
It is high time that the government should start listening to the people and must take action on the clamor of the people. We are fed up with corruption. We are fed up with all of this. Enough is enough!