Cebu kicks off signature campaign vs pork barrel
Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Philippine Star) - August 24, 2014 - 12:00am

CEBU CITY, Philippines – As various groups step up their campaign for the abolition of pork barrel in any form, militant organizations here vowed yesterday to block any attempt by the administration to stay in power and pave the way for a dictatorship.

“If a sitting president can openly lash out and mobilize a co-equal pillar of government for his own self-seeking interests and is hell-bent in preserving but also extending this depraved status quo with another six-year term, then it is bound to be a dictatorship,” said Aaron Pedrosa, national secretary-general of Sanlakas. He said the people should not take an emerging dictatorship sitting down.

“Even without an open dictatorship, we suffer immensely under Aquino’s neo-liberal economic policies, all the more if coupled with draconian rule,” he said.

Sanlakas, along with other militant groups like the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino and the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), is preparing for tomorrow’s nationwide launch of the People’s Initiative for total abolition of pork barrel and the Disbursement Acceleration Fund (DAP). To highlight the launch is a signature campaign for the scrapping of pork barrel and the DAP. Supporters of the initiative gathered for the People’s Congress at the Mariner’s Court yesterday. A rally against the pork barrel followed at the Plaza Independencia.

Sonny Melencio of PLM scored Aquino’s “insatiable appetite for power, his self-righteous infallibility and his holier-than-Gloria tendency.”

He said the Aquino administration is as corrupt and dictatorial as the previous Arroyo regime.

“By utilizing the heavily denounced pork barrel system, Aquino is ensuring his cronies and supporters will corner large amounts of public funds through projects contracted out by the government,” Melencio said.

He also said Aquino’s “pigheadedness and tenacious appetite for pork” had laid out in the open the “deception” behind the President’s tuwid na daan rhetoric.

At the House of Representatives, the Kabataan partylist yesterday expressed full support for a People’s Initiative to abolish the pork barrel system.

“We commit to mobilizing all of our regional chapters and our 90,000-strong nationwide membership towards the success of this effort,” Kabataan partylist Rep. Terry  Ridon said.

He said his group is coordinating with Youth Act Now, the official youth arm of the People’s Initiative campaign, for the conduct of activities like petition signing in schools and communities throughout the country in the coming months.

“From the initial deliberations of the 2015 national budget, we have seen how the Aquino administration is once again attempting to legislate a budget ridden with lump-sums and vague items,” he said. “There is truly a need to pass a law that will slay the monstrous pork barrel once and for all,” he added.

“This is a unique approach that will truly show the Aquino administration how wide the clamor for change is,” Ridon pointed out.

The proposed bill being pushed through People’s Initiative, primarily penned by retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno, seeks to abolish the presidential and congressional pork barrel, mandate line item budgeting, prohibit and criminalize appropriation and use of lump sum discretionary funds, and penalize violators with six years and one day to 10 years imprisonment and disqualification from holding public office.

A similar petition signing will be held tomorrow at the Rizal Park, alongside a protest rally to mark the first year anniversary of the Million People March. – With Aurea Calica, Raymund Catindig

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