One hopes that no public officials are this heartless, celebrating in the midst of disaster. But approximating them have been the politicians who profited from the PDAF billions meant for the poor. The public outrage has snowballed via social media and will arrive at a giant meet-up on National Heroes Day on Monday. President Aquino has announced PDAF's abolition, but few seem to be buying it. With information from so many sources, it's harder to fool people these days. Manix Abrera Courtesy of GMA NEWS TV

MANILA , AUGUST 26, 2013
(ABS-CBN) by Ira Pedrasa, - Malacanang won’t stop gov’t officials, employees from joining march

The call for the abolition of the pork barrel will not be over on Monday, with the public expecting more transparency and accountability once the message is put in place.

All systems are a go for the “The Million People March” on August 26, National Heroes’ Day, at the Luneta Park in Manila. One of the “organizers,” Peachy Bretana, said a simultaneous “citizen’s democratic exercise” will happen in different parts of the country and abroad such as Geneva, San Francisco, New York, Hong Kong, Ontario, Vancouver and many more.

“I hope many more will be coming, and the one million will not only be in Luneta,” said the reluctant organizer, the first to call on social media the political exercise after the so-called pork barrel scam was revealed.

Over at, Bretana started another petition urging the government to account for all spent pork and punish the abusers.

“If we truly want to rid the nation of corruption, we cannot focus only on one sector or one administration. There is no such thing as “unaccountable” power to spend OUR money,” she said.

On Monday, there will not be one leader, but only the public who will push for the scrapping of the pork barrel and any other by a different name, she said.

Davao City readies for August 26 'Million People March' vs pork barrel: In preparation for the August 26 'Million People March' against the pork barrel and corruption, volunteers in Davao City on Friday, August 23, start printing protest shirts and posters. Supporters are pooling in resources for the printing costs. Karlos Manlupig

Even Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle is adding his voice to “The Million People March.”

“As far as I know there is no real organizer of the picnic on August 26. It seems to be a fruit of social media. The church has no official statement about it and we leave it to people to join or not. But we enjoin those who decide to go to Luneta to study the issues to be committed to integrity and to maintain peace and hope,” Tagle told Radio Veritas.

Jesus is Lord (JIL) president Bro. Eddie Villanueva, on the other hand, also called on the public to join in prayers for repentance and humility.

“We are calling on all leaders of various pillars of society to do the most heroic act -- lead their respective sectors in heeding God’s admonition for His people to seek His face, humble ourselves and pray and turn from our wicked ways. Let us go out to Luneta not only to register our indignation to corruption but also to do the most important thing -- pray,” he said.

Coinciding with Monday's event, church groups will also hold a “mass for truth and justice” in Luneta.

Participatory governance

Malacanang, on the other hand, does not see anything wrong with its officials and employees joining ranks with the public on Monday.

In an interview with radio dzRB, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said: “Malaya po ang lahat ng gusting sumali sa pagkilos.”

She said Malacanang is encouraging everyone to join in “participatory governance” in order to make government officials accountable for every peso spent in the budget.

On Friday, President Benigno Aquino III finally called on abolishing the existing pork barrel system to make way for a more restricted system.

“Ngayon, bubuo tayo ng bagong mekanismo upang matugunan ang pangangailangan ng inyong mga mamamayan at sektor–sa paraang tapat, gamit ang tama at makatuwirang proseso, at nang may sapat na mga kalasag laban sa pang-aabuso at katiwalian,” he had said.

This attracted a gamut of reactions, however. Some said Aquino merely suggested a pork system by another name.

“Bukas tayo sa pakikipag-usap, maganda na mayroong talakayan,” Valte insisted, saying now the debate has been opened, many people are expected to express their opinions in order to make the budget process a more transparent one.

Even with Aquino calling for a different system, he wants that metrics are in place, she said.


Marchers, Manila police gird for Monday's pork-barrel protest August 25, 2013 1:23am 10 99 0 445

Despite President Aquino's announcement calling for the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), activists gather on Mendiola Bridge on Friday, August 23, to urge the public to join the August 26 'Million People March' against the pork barrel system at the Luneta Park. Benjie Castro

Activists prepare for anti-pork rally on August 26 Activists prepare for anti-'pork' rally on August 26 .  Representatives of groups joining Monday's Million People March, a protest against the allegedly graft-ridden pork barrel fund, met with top officials of the Manila Police District Saturday to discuss security arrangements.

Manila police were on full alert by Saturday afternoon in anticipation of the protest march, with a part of Roxas Boulevard from T.M. Kalaw to P. Burgos to be closed by 9 a.m. of Monday.

Meanwhile, the National Parks and Development Committe was apprehensive over the protesters' insistance that there be no sole organizer for the event, as it would make it difficult for fines to be handed out if park facilities were damaged.

Margaux Salcedo, spokesperson for Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, said that the mayor would allow the march to go ahead despite the lack of a permit, but with police supervision.

“There will be police on standby but he respects freedom of expression and will not interfere as long as the gathering is peaceful,” she said.

Since the Million People March event page was created in August 17, thousands have said they were joining the protest.

The Million-People protest aims to see the pork barrel scrapped, and for the senators and congressmen involved in the alleged pork-barrel scam “investigated and charged accordingly, with full media coverage for the people to see.”

The protest march was still scheduled to continue, despite Friday's announcement by President Benigno Aquino III that the Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel was abolished as protesters were concerned that the government's move was merely cosmetic. “We were heard but we want him to listen. We have more to say,” read an announcement on the protest's web page.

Elsewhere, other cities said they would be joining Monday's protest as they will have parallel marches. Puerto Princesa Baguio, Cebu, Davao, Dumaguete, and Iloilo cities have said that they, too, would hold Monday protests. — Rie Takumi/DVM, GMA News

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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