3,000 attend new Luneta anti-pork rally
At least 3,000 members of Interfaith groups, health groups, cause-oriented groups, militant groups and students on Friday converged anew at the Rizal Park to continue the protest against the pork barrel system.
Just two days after the reported unsuccessful anti-pork barrel gathering in EDSA last Tuesday, people trooped to the same venue of the first anti-pork barrel rally to denounce the system and to call on President Benign Aquino IIII to give up his own presidential discretionary funds.
“Otherwise, the people may have to start a civil disobedience campaign until Aquino abolishes pork in all its forms, including his own presidential pork,” Fr. Jose Dizon, head of #Abolishpork Movement, one of the organizers of the rally said.
Prior to the event, Fr. Dizon estimated the number of attendees at 10,000 but as of 3pm Friday, police placed the foot traffic at the Burnham green of the Rizal park between 3,000 to 4,000 only.
Still, rallyists believe their voices could eliminate one of the sources of corruption in the government.
The groups that participated in the activity include Youth act now! Alliance, the Association of major religious superiors , the Catholic Educators Association, Protestant churches, concerned citizens movement, Alliance of Health Workers (AHW), health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) and Volunteers against crime and corruption among others.
“The issue is now beyond Janet Napoles and her bogus NGOs. The issue strikes at the heart of the corrupt system itself. Will there be genuine accountability or is the President using the entire two-month running episode as a political weapon to attack his enemies or as a defense for his allies and himself?” Dizon added.
Napoles is being accused as the mastermind of the P10 Billion pork barrel scam and is now detained in Laguna on serious illegal detention charges.
The health workers called for the reassigning of pork barrel funds into public health lamenting that the government has been allocating ‘loose change’ for people’s health.
Data cited by the AHW said that 2014 funds for the Lung Center of the Philippines is P173.4 Million, which is way ‘less than a senator’s pork barrel’.
Furthermore, AHW said allocation for medicines, supplies, equipment and operational expenses for the 70 DoH-retained public hospitals for 2014 is P4 167 Billion which is only 10 percent of the presidential pork.
The group also protested that the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) has become a ‘Ospital na may bayad’ from its previous category as ‘Ospital ng Bayan’.
“The PGH, while not funded under the DoH agency allitment , suffers significant budget cut for 2014 to the detriment of more than half a million patients that seek refuge in PGH,” AHW said.
Sixty-six year old Rogelio C. Palad of Cabanatuan City, who has attended previous anti-pork rally protest gatherings came for the third time to voice his disgust for the system.
“Ngayon ko lang to ginawa sa tanang buhay ko,” Palad said holding his anti-asthma spray in one hand. “Pag hindi natigil pagnanakaw nila, Baka mabait lugaw hindi na makakain ang mga gutom,” he said.
The senior citizen said he pities the future generations who may bear the burden of suffering because of the actions of current leaders in the government.
The event was also marked by performances from Bayang Barrios, Jograd dela Torre and
Juana Change among others.
Organizers of Friday’s rally said they are preparing for a nationwide and coordinated protest on September 21, the anniversary of martial law.