Gov’t teachers join Luneta march vs ‘pork’

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MANILA, Philippines–Public school teachers highlighted the misuse of taxpayers’ money as they joined thousands in Luneta Monday morning to protest against the pork barrel and corruption in government.

The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition printed their own rally t-shirts with their slogan “Scrap the Pork, Jail the Crooks, Fund our Schools” and their posters with the slogan, “Teachers, honest taxpayers.”

The teachers, some with their families in tow, came with their protest shirts, placards, banners, sound system and prepared cultural presentations.

“By marching in the streets, we could leave a legacy for our students and our own children, that they will grow up in a country free of corruption and thievery and would make them proud as Filipino people,” TDC chairperson Benjo Basas said.

Public school teachers were enraged to find out from the Bureau of Internal Revenue that they paid more taxes than most lawyers, doctors and architects.

“The taxes that came from our daily [toil] only end up in the pockets of thieves,” read their protest poster in Filipino.

“(Our taxes) were even higher than that paid by JLN Corporation of (Janet Lim) Napoles in 2009, 2010 and 2011,” it pointed out.

“The scam involving Napoles amounted to only P10 billion (but) according to the COA (Commission on Audit) report, much more funds have been misused and more officials were involved,” the poster said.

The teachers complained they did not get a salary increase this year and would not get any next year, while their performance-based bonus was even taxed.

Basas said they were not placated by President Aquino’s pronouncement last Friday proposing to clip legislators’ discretion over the use of their million-peso pork barrel funds.

“The pronouncement is just a ploy to weaken the growing unity and anger of the people against corruption in government. The crooks in the bureaucracy should be punished regardless of their party affiliation, (regardless) whether they are in the Senate, House of Representatives or the executive branch,” he said.

“The people who keep the state operating through their shares of taxes should be the recipients of the services from the government. Public funds should not be used for patronage politics and lavish lifestyle of the elected officials and their cohorts,” he continued.

TDC also joined the march to Mendiola after the Luneta rally, which authorities earlier said would end at 2 p.m.

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