MANILA, Philippines – Militant groups on Tuesday said they will hold activities in support of former Chief Justice Reynato Puno’s “people power” against the pork barrel system.
The Youth Act Now network said they will hold youth assemblies to gather signatures and pledges for the People’s Initiative. Meanwhile Piston will form an alliance of transport groups for the same purpose.
Earlier, Puno said a people’s initiative is needed to truly abolish the pork barrel system. He said in a statement that Congress “cannot legislate against its own selfish interest.”
“Under our 1987 Constitution, the power to enact laws is no longer exclusively vested in Congress but can now be directly exercised by the people in recognition of the doctrine that the people are the real sovereign and not their elected legislators,” he said.
“The plan to hold a Peoples’ Initiative versus pork is a welcome development. It can be a vehicle for millions of young people to express their collective disappointment and outrage versus the corrupt and pro-pork Aquino government,” Youth Act Now convenor Vencer Crisostomo said.
The group commended Puno for “heeding the challenge of the times and for lending his wisdom, experience and reputation to the broad movement against pork.”
“It is clear now that Aquino and his administration won’t abolish pork and will not bring change…We can only rely on collective action and people power to make sure the rotten, corrupt system is ended,” Crisostomo said.
Meanwhile, Piston national president George San Mateo said, “The majority of lawmakers, and even President Benigno Aquino III, will not act to voluntarily scrap the corrupt pork barrel system because then benefit from it. That is why various sectors of should work together to ensure the success of the People’s Initiative.”
San Mateo said they already have a line-up of protest actions against the Priority Development Assistance Fund and other discretionary funds.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) also said they are “ready to mobilize [their] 50,000 members throughout the country not only to sign, but to gather signatures in their locality.”
“It is already apparent that they (lawmakers) are there not because of their desire to serve the country by crafting laws that will address the needs of the Filipino people. They took millions from us, but can’t even enact a law that will give us (public school teachers) a decent and humane compensation,” ACT national president Benjie Valbuena said.
Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno has also started a series of noise barrage protests in support of Puno’s campaign.
“We support the people’s initiative against the pork barrel system and we vow to do everything we can to make it a success. We are calling on all Filipinos to show their disgust over this system of corruption and deceit by signing against it,” KMU secretary-general Roger Soluta said.
KMU said, in a statement, that they are “eager to have a copy of the official petition for the initiative,” which requires the signature of 10 percent of all registered voters or over 5.2 million Filipinos and at least three percent of voters in every legislative district.
The groups said they are confident that an “overwhelming majority of Filipinos” will support the campaign.
“We urge them to show up in huge numbers in various public forums aimed at explaining critiques of the pork barrel system and at gathering signatures,” Soluta said.