People’s Initiative vs pork ‘back on track’

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma throws his support for people’s initiative to abolish the pork barrel system.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma throws his support for people’s initiative to abolish the pork barrel system.

I wrote this article for the Philippine Online Chronicles.

Like the other bread

The bread of justice must be baked

By the people — Bertolt Brecht

After waning for some time after its height with the big protest actions August and September last year, efforts to seriously push for the abolition of the pork barrel system is back on track.

The Supreme Court’s ruling unconstitutional of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) may have led many to think the fight is over. The onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda also shifted most of our attentions to the urgent need for relief and rehabilitation.

But the pork barrel system is not yet dead. Lump sum amounts — the use of which, including the choice of the project, its amount, and the beneficiaries, is left exclusively at the discretion of the pork barrel holder — continue to exist. It is alive and well as a lucrative source of corruption and patronage.

The presidential pork is still around with the continued existence of the special purpose funds and the unprogrammed funds the use of which is under the sole discretion of Malacañang. President BS Aquino remains the undisputed pork barrel king.

Meanwhile the congressional pork has simply gone paperless with lump sum funds simply rechanneled to various line agencies for use by legislators to fund their pet projects, said by Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate in an assembly of anti-pork groups at the Cebu Archbishop’s Residence last Friday.

These are but tidbits of the discussions shared during that historic meeting of major anti-pork forces from all over the country. Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma hosted this meeting to plan the next moves in the campaign to finally scrap the pork barrel system.

In the light of the recent expose of the so-called Napolists, it is clear that the country’s corrupt officials will never give up what is not taken away from them forcibly and will use all the resources and power in their command to preserve their privileges.

With Congress unwilling to abolish the pork barrel, the people themselves must abolish the pork barrel through people’s initiative. This means getting the nod of 10 percent of the total voting population (and 3 percent of the voting population of each electoral district).

The following is a unified draft of the proposed anti-pork legislation that the assembly agreed upon in the Cebu Archbishop’s residence. The final text will be finalized in a People’s Congress to be convened for this purpose on August 23, 2014 here in Cebu City:

On the same day, a massive anti-pork rally will be held at Plaza Independencia to launch the people’s initiative campaign.

The pork barrel is just one symptom of the bureaucrat capitalist system that has warped government into an instrument for the enrichment of the domestic ruling classes and foreign monopoly capital seeking to plunder our natural resources and exploit our people.

But the abolition of the pork barrel will present a big blow to those that has kept the country in chronic poverty and backwardness. It brings us one step closer towards the attainment of genuine freedom and social justice. It is high time that the anti-pork campaign gets rolling again.


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