“Our wage is like before and yet everything is being taxed so that they [government officials] would have money to turn into pork for their taking.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – Igleceria Chee, 65, has searched for a way to join the signup drive to abolish pork barrel ever since she heard about the people’s initiative. That is why, she said, when she heard that a signup drive is happening at the patio of Sto. Niño Church in Tondo, Manila near where she lives, she immediately came. At least 600 others like her outside Sto. Niño church joined the People’s Initiative that Saturday morning September 11, in its launch in Metro Manila.
The #ScrapThePork Alliance spearheads the launch of People’s Initiative Against Pork, calling the campaign in the capital the ‘1M Signatures in Metro Manila vs Pork’ campaign.
Sto. Niño Church in Tondo is just one of the key churches and communities in Metro Manila where they put up signing booths, and deployed members from various groups to answer the people’s queries about the initiative, as well as to traffic them as they queued to sign up. The anti-pork group also held house-to-house activities near churches in various communities all over Metro Manila.
In less than an hour after starting the signup, vendors, housewives, drivers, oddjobbers, students, employees such as a surpervisor in a telecom company (who happens to be a former barangay captain), an electrical engineer, a call center agent just coming out from work, a lay minister in church, a welder, among others, approached the sign up booths and signed their names and addresses.
Husband and wife Dennis and Christine Patron (53 and 50 years old, respectively) both signed up. Christine told Bulatlat.com she signed up for the People’s Initiative to abolish pork because she has long been against pork.
“I hear about it in the news. They (politicians in power) are gorging themselves while many people have nothing to eat. Public funds don’t go to the people unlike in other countries,” Christine Patron said in Filipino. She added that “the current president, Noynoy (Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III), is not doing anything to address the increasing prices of basic goods and services.”
Her husband, Dennis, told Bulatlat.com that no one had asked them to go and sign up for the People’s Initiative to abolish pork. “I just said, ‘let’s go sign up, to vent our rage.” He is outraged that after all these time and the promises made, “our wage is like before and yet everything is being taxed so that they [government officials] would have money to turn into pork for their taking.”
Dennis said that for a long time now, what those in power have been doing is ugly. He was referring to pork and how pork is corruption, “because the glitter of money blinds all politicians whose focus is turned mostly to money-making or pork.”
Proof of Aquino’s failure to dismantle corruption
“The People’s Initiative to Abolish Pork Barrel is a clear proof of President Aquino’s failure to dismantle the system of corruption in the Philippine bureaucracy under his administration. It further shows the people’s response to Aquino’s insincerity in ending pork politics in the country,” said Love Carlos, spokesperson of #ScrapThePork Alliance for the People’s Initiative Campaign.
The People’s Initiative, launched late last month in Cebu City, reports growing mass support. According to organizers, for it to successfully push for the holding of a referendum for pork abolition, three percent of the total voting population per congressional district and 10 percent of the total voting population nationwide is needed.
The #ScrapThePork Alliance targets one million signatures in Metro Manila. It will come from 32 congressional districts in 16 cities and one municipality of Metro Manila.
Nationwide, various anti-pork groups are aiming to gather from six to 10 million signatures to enact the criminalization of the use of all forms of pork barrel in the country.
Love Carlos of #ScrapThePork Alliance for the People’s Initiative Campaign said this initiative is “an effective instrument to introduce the law abolishing pork.”
To this day, various reports continue to show that pork remains as huge lumps in the national budget, despite pronouncements by the Aquino administration. Given that all these pork continue to be inserted in the budget and defended by the Aquino administration despite the rulings of the Supreme Court, Carlos said “it is obvious we cannot expect Congress to enact a law abolishing pork.”
Overwhelming public support
Twenty-three year old Love Carlos of #ScrapThePork Alliance for the People’s Initiative is studying law in San Beda College. A year ago, she joined the Million People March in Luneta as her way of personally contributing to the fight against pork, which she noted even then as “very rampant.”
A year later, she took part in the convention in Cebu where they agreed and planned for the People’s Initiative to Abolish Pork (PIAP). “Since the country’s lawmakers do not seem inclined to end pork by legislation, we thought, let us do it ourselves.”
She took part by coming out with proposals during the drafting of the proposed law abolishing pork.
Now, she speaks for the #ScrapThePork Alliance when it comes to matters concerning the People’s Initiative abolishing pork. Despite her slight frame, she regularly helps in discussing pork and the People’s Initiative to Abolish Pork in various places.
Asked to share the highlight of their talk against pork in every place they visited, she said it can be summed up in the people’s overwhelming support.
“Everywhere we go, the people say ‘pork barrel is at the root of corruption.’” She ascribed the source of her strength in speaking for this campaign to the support being given by the people.
At Sto. Niño Church this Saturday for the launch of PIAP and start of the signature drive in the capital, samples of this overwhelming support lined up at the lone booth they set up.
Andres Baraquiel, 63, lay minister and member of the choir in the church, expressed regret that he cannot sign up yet. Though limping when he walks, he said he is forced to go this Sunday to Sta. Cruz Church because that is where his district has a people’s initiative signup booth.
Call center agent Roda Dizon, 40, was heading home from a whole night’s work when she passed by the Sto. Niño Church and saw the anti-pork signup booth. She dropped by to sign her name and voter’s address.
“Ever since, I am against pork,” she said. She has been hearing about how (politicians in power) use pork to enrich themselves while all around them, many people live in extreme deprivation.
Churchgoers signed up after the mass. Amelia M. Pinlac, 57, heard mass first and prayed, before coming to sign up at the PIAP booth. She said she has been hearing about the initiative from priests discussing it in Radio Veritas. She hopes that with this law abolishing pork, it will really finally come to an end. If not, she said she will continue praying for its end.
Marlyn Vargas, 60, also hears mass everyday in Sto. Niño Church. When she saw the signup booth, she said she immediately approached it to sign her name. She is supporting a child in college, with the help of another of her children who works as a driver.
Clothes vendor Alfredo Gadia, 42, said after signing up that “Noynoy Aquino should resign because nothing has come out of his promises, especially in supposedly fighting corruption.”
A tall man with white beard approached the booth and berated the members of #ScrapThePork Alliance. “Why do you have to do this signup? Why not just give us guns so we could shoot Noynoy?” he said. Still, after a short talk with the people in the booth, he signed his name with his fellow Tondo residents.
He is Rodolfo Cabrera Gonzales. At 67, he stills drives a truck for a living, his source of livelihood for the last 40 years.
He shared that he was one of those attending rallies even before the declaration of Martial Law in 1972. He said Noynoy has damaged the name of his father, former Senator Benigno Aquino, who was shot in the airport of Manila “while Noynoy was in hiding.”
Although he had cracked jokes that made some youth members of #ScrapThePork Alliance laugh, he rued the fact that he now has fewer days to live this life, but until now, there is no change.
Carlos of #ScrapThePork Alliance urges the people in Metro Manila and other regions who have also been against the systems of the pork barrel and bureaucratic corruption to sign the People’s Initiative and “together, let us aim or its total abolition.”