MANILA, Philippines—The National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) has issued an official permit for groups participating in the “million people march” to scrap the “pork barrel” or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) at Rizal Park in Manila on Monday, August 26.
NPDC spokesperson Kenneth Montegrande told INQUIRER.net Saturday that the permit signed by NPDC and some group representatives required the rallyists to conform to the park’s basic rules and regulations — keeping the area clean and waste-free.
“Kung ang pinaglalaban natin ay matuwid na daan, simulan po natin sa ating sarili—maglinis tayo [If we are fighting for the “straight path,” we should set the path straight first—by cleaning our surroundings],” said Montegrande.
Former president and Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Thursday that even without a permit, he would allow the protest “as long as [the people will] ensure that the rally will be peaceful.”
Montegrande said that the park authorities had formally coordinated with the groups who will hold a “picnic rally” at the Luneta grounds and “expected” them to comply with the guidelines they agreed on.
“We’re talking about a million of people here so we, along with the Manila Police District officers, had to coordinate with the groups to discuss how NPDC would address their needs [on security and logistics],”he said.
Aside from the command posts to be established by the Manila police force, the NPDC will put a main command center headed by NPDC chairperson Juliet Villegas to consolidate all the monitoring reports to be relayed to them by the police.
“Plus, there 26 Closed-circuit Televisions (CCTVs) from the stretch of Quirino Grandstand to the perimeters of the Rizal Park so we can easily observe and manage the event,” he said.
The Park committee spokesperson also called on each group to send volunteer marshalls to augment security during and after the event.
Moreover, Montegrante said: “Although we have enough trash bins in Rizal park, we also need people who are willing to volunteer to clean up during and after the event.”
He said that the Manila Parking Bureau has suggested that the participants avoid bringing their cars as much as possible due to limited parking spaces in Luneta.
The event is expected to run from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. but Montegrande said that the Parks Committee would be closely monitoring from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m.
Initiated by netizens and organizations from different sectors, the call for “Million People March to Luneta” on Monday was prompted by a series of exposes by the Inquirer on the alleged miuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) by lawmakers and government officials who were said to have channeled the money to bogus nongovernment organizations for ghost projects.
On Friday, President Benigno Aquino III said in his speech that “it’s time to abolish pork barrel,” but anti-pork groups vowed to rally despite the announcement.