MANILA, Philippines – Were President Benigno Aquino and senators sincere in their pledge to abolish the pork barrel?
Many participants of the Million People March against the pork barrel system at Rizal Park interviewed by INQUIRER.net were skeptical.
“Do it first and don’t be all talk,” a teacher for 35 years said about the pronouncement of President Benigno Aquino III that he would abolish the graft-ridden Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.
“We are here to join the protest. As a teacher, it is my right to take part in this activity because I am also paying my taxes,” Mena Betocabe said.
Betocabe, 54, has been a teacher for 35 years. She is currently working in San Beda College- Alabang.
“Gawin muna, mahirap kasi ang puro salita (Do it first, words are meaningless),” she said when asked if she believes Aquino and several other senators were sincere about their pledge to abolish the pork barrel system.
“He should prove it, if (PDAF) will be abolished, it should be abolished totally. It should not just be renamed because it will still be there,” she said
Rudolfo de Jesus, 47, a vendor from Silang, Cavite, said that he was also doubtful about Aquino’s statement.
“If [Pork barrel] will be removed completely then that’s good, but if he would leave some intact then that would not be right. Everyone should be equal,” de Jesus said in Filipino.
“For me, PDAF should really be abolished, so that the money will really [benefit] the poor,” he added.
Jelvinne, a 21-year-old member of the Liwanag ng Kapayapaan Foundation from Fairview, said he thinks Aquino and the lawmakers are just looking for a way out of the issue that’s why they expressed their support for the abolition of PDAF.
“They became involved in the [pork barrel scam] issue and they want to get out,” he said when asked whether he believes the sincerity of Aquino and the lawmakers.
“We want the politicians who are responsible to be held accountable,” he added.
If ever the government would replace the PDAF with a different system, Jelvinne said it should ensure that the funds would go to the needy and not to politicians.
“I hope if they would establish a new program it should help our countrymen who are in need and the money should really be for their benefit and not for government officials,” he said.
Niel, a 19-year-old Fine Arts student from the University of Santo Tomas (UST), thinks that a new system to replace the PDAF will still be under Aquino’s discretion putting it at risk of not being used for the benefit of the poor.
“[The new PDAF system] might not go to the senators but the one who will handle it will still be Aquino so it will still be like he has the money, and it might just go to whoever he wants,” he said.
“There have been so many instances of corruption, the money which should have gone to the communities, went to [undeserving] people, like [Janet] Napoles and etc.,” he said.
When asked what he think should be the new system, he said he couldn’t think of any.
Ryan Oriondo, 37, President of the Nasugbu Bike Club and a businessman, said he believes in Aquino’s pronouncement to abolish the PDAF.
“I just believe him. I hope it really will be abolished,” he said. “I hope they come up with a better way [to use the funds] for our country.”