pork barrel funds Thousands gather in Manila to protest

MANILA: Thousands of Filipinos from all walks of life converged at Manila’s central business district of Makati to renew their call for President Aquino and lawmakers to abolish all forms of pork barrel funds, which they say is a source of corruption.

The first anti-pork rally held more than a month ago unravelled more revelations of pork barrel funds misuse.

The pork barrel system is a system which enables legislators to get a huge portion of the annual budget to be used for their own developmental projects.

However, recent controversies surrounding the misuse of state funds have spawned anger among netizens and fuelled massive protests with various groups demanding for the abolition of the pork barrel system and the swift prosecution of government officials involved in the misuse of such funds.

Patricia Tan, spokesperson for the Scrap Pork Network, said: “We see from all the exposes and the stories from the whistleblowers that this money is being stolen by senators, congressmen, and private citizens.

"And yet, it's not going to the social services that are needed by the large majority of the Filipinos. It's very clear that they are stealing our money and we want that system to be stopped."

“It's not enough that they be placed in prison. They have to restore -- this is called restitution -- the money that they got which is not theirs,” said Archbishop Oscar Cruz.
Volunteer organisations however, clarified that Friday's protest was not aimed against 

President Aquino but a call for change in the system.

President Aquino won a landslide victory back in 2010 when he ran on an anti-corruption platform.

Organiser of the Million People March, Michelle Estor, said: “We call for punishment, yes, but there's no call for the president to resign. It is our view that this problem cannot be solved simply by a change in leadership.

“The million people march is not against a specific person, it is against corruption, against abuse by certain individuals and that is the problem that is supposed to be addressed and it cannot be solved by a mere regime change.”

The president has since promised to reform the pork barrel system but critics say this is not enough.

Analysts believe that until President Aquino heeds the mounting calls for the abolishment of the pork barrel system, it will remain a thorn on the popularity of his administration. 

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