MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang is clueless about the forces behind the rumored protest action being planned on Sept. 11 but is certain that organizers of the Million People March have nothing to do with it.
“I really don’t know who made the plan… I understand that the organizer of the first Million People March, Peachy Bretaña, disowned this second march. But, again, this is a public assembly so… everybody has the right to freedom of expression,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda in a press briefing.
Lacierda refused to comment on alleged intelligence reports that supporters of the Arroyo administration and the United Nationalist Alliance were behind the “Edsa Tayo” protest on Sept. 11, which marks the birthday of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
He noted that ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona and former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon attended the Million People March in Rizal Park on Aug. 26, designated as National Heroes Day.
“So, any hue, any shade of whatever political group or affiliation or ideological affiliation may be present,” he said.
Lacierda accused Navotas City Rep. and UNA spokesman Tobias Tiangco of “politicizing” and “jumping” on the pork barrel issue by wanting to steer the blame from lawmakers who chose what NGOs would get their pork to the administration, specifically the President and Secretary Florencio Abad Jr. of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
“If you look at the process of how funds were absconded or malversed, there were directions made—there were authorizations given by some lawmakers on where funds should be given and a number of them have identified giving it to particular NGOs. [Those] instructions were given not to the DBM but to the implementing agencies. So where do you lay the blame? It’s not with DBM,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda was aware that the organizers’ target was the President’s Social Fund, which they have labeled as President Aquino’s pork barrel, but he maintained that these criticisms were off track.
“The COA (Commission on Audit) has already released its report on the President’s Social Fund. Was there any misuse like in the use of the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund)? It’s not pork barrel because, in the context of patronage politics, it is meant for re-election. The President is not gunning for—is not allowed to run for another term,” Lacierda said.