Baguio rally slams plunder through pork barrel

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A protester expresses anger at the plunder of taxpayers’ money through the pork barrel system at a rally of students and teachers on Session Road in Baguio City. RICHARD BALONGLONG/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — Despite continuing rains, at least 300 university students on Friday marched down the city’s central business district to press for the abolition of the pork barrel system.

The students from the University of the Philippines (UP) in Baguio, Saint Louis University, the University of the Cordilleras and the University of Baguio walked out of their classes and assembled in downtown Baguio to express their outrage over the plunder of public funds through legislators’ Priority Development Assistance Fund, known also as pork barrel, as well as lump sum allocations for the Office of the President.

Malacañang has repeatedly denied that the lump sum allocations in the budget of the Office of the President is a form of pork.

The UP Baguio leg of the march began with a forum on the pork barrel. UP Baguio chancellor Raymundo Rovillos told the students that he was saddened by the plunder of public funds through pork barrel. He said the anomaly has affected him and many UP teachers, whose taxes are automatically deducted from their salaries.

He said government employees have been shocked at reports that politicians have pocketed some of their taxes instead of using these to subsidize social projects. He cited the budget cuts for state colleges and universities.

Based on the proposed 2014 national budget, the UP system would suffer a P1.4-million reduction.

The march was part of a nationwide student action against the pork barrel. Organizers said the rally was the opening salvo of a week of student strikes against corruption in government. Kimberlie Quitasol, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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