Rallies vs pork continue

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ILOILO CITY, Philippines—From rallies to concerts and runs.

An outraged people have stepped up protests to call for the abolition of pork.

At least 3,000 protesters, mostly students, converged at the capitol grounds here on Thursday for a rally that was followed by a concert.

An activist priest is organizing a new campaign that will bring together runners and bikers who are also passionate against the plunder of public funds through pork.

Protesters in Iloilo included 500 students, teachers and employees from the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) from campuses in Miag-ao, Iloilo, and Iloilo City who are also protesting a P1.43-billion cut in the UP system budget next year.

John Philip Fuego, chair of the UPV College of Arts and Sciences Student Council, said legislators’ pork should be scrapped and spent on education and other social services.

Students from other state universities and colleges in Iloilo City, including West Visayas State University (WVSU) and Western Visayas College of Science and Technology (WCST), also joined the rally.

WVSU’s budget would be cut by P10 million and WVSCT, by P30 million, according to Charmane Chin, spokesperson in Panay of Kabataan party-list group.

After the rally, at least 20 bands performed in a protest concert.

In Lucena City, activist priest Fr. Robert Reyes is launching a new campaign dubbed “One million people march, one million kilometer run” aimed at drawing the support of hundreds of thousands of runners and bikers nationwide to stop the continuing plunder of public funds through the pork barrel system.

“These sectors of organized physical fitness buffs can carry the torch of the people’s struggle against the abominable pork barrel on a sustained battle,” Reyes said in a phone interview.

Reyes, popularly known as the “running priest” for initiating runs to raise public awareness of a variety of social and political issues, said he talked with organizers of the Million People March in Rizal Park about his idea of sustaining protests against pork.

“It is easy for the people to march yet we find it hard for them to organize. These runners and bikers, they are always on [a] run, some of them every day and most during weekend,” said Reyes, a Catholic priest who was under the Archdiocese of Manila but is now a member of the Franciscan order.

Reyes said he would start the campaign in Legazpi City before the end of September. From Legazpi, he would travel to Manila in several convoys of fellow antipork activists.

At every pit stop, Reyes said they would conduct lightning rallies at the town center to urge people to continue the fight for the abolition of pork and the punishment of those responsible for the plunder of the people’s money.

“We will never stop running until President Aquino finally has the courage to heed the collective voice of his bosses,” Reyes said.

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