By: Roi Anthoni Lomotan
DUMAGUETE CITY, August 27, 2013 (PIA) – Citizens and Civil Society Organizations in Dumaguete City joined the nationwide protest against the pork barrel or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
The rally here started at 9:00 am at the Rizal Boulevard. Rallyists wore white shirts signifying a united stand for the total abolition of PDAF in the Executive and Legislative Branches of the government.
“The Filipino people will not stop (protesting) until the government totally gets rid of the pork barrel system,” Bayanmuna Rep. Neri Colmenares said.
Colmenares is in Dumaguete City to attend a speaking engagement but he also participated in the anti-pork barrel rally.
Colmenares also said that Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the P10-billion pork barrel scam which detailed the misuse of PDAFs, was just the tip of the iceberg and there are many people using the scheme Napoles did to steal money from the government.
Napoles is said to have gotten P10-billion from the government through the non-government organizations (NGOs) she used as front to shell out money from politicians.
“If you look at the Commission on Audit (COA)’s report, there are 82 dubious non-government orgnizations (NGOs). Napoles has only 10, so there are still 72 fake NGOs,” the lawmaker said.
The Bayanmuna representative called for an objective investigation on the matter.
However, Colmenares agrees that the scrapping of PDAF from congressmen is a step in achieving transparency in the government.
“(It is) a very good step, the pork barrel is the most serious (source) of corruption in the government,” he said.
Meanwhile, Provincial Administrator Arnel Francisco said the rally in Rizal Boulevard is a good way to advocate and achieve the transparency in the release of public funds.
“The governor is really bent on good governance. He wants to be transparent in what he does and what the provincial government does. He is happy that many people participated in the event since it is the only time the voices of the people in Negros are heard regarding the issue,” Francisco said.
The Provincial Administrator also noted that the governor believes that the PDAF per se is not bad but sometimes it really goes to the purses of politicians.
The governor also believes that the local chief executives are the right authorities to identify projects that will be funded from the pork barrel.
On the other hand, Ms. Leonor Briones of the Social Watch Philippines suggested that the PDAFs should be transferred to the national government agencies (NGAs) from the congressmen.
She believes that it’s the NGAs like the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) are the most capable and accountable government agencies to implement government projects.
“If the project is road construction, give it (PDAF) to DPWH, if it the project is construction of clinics, give it to DOH, if classrooms give it to DepEd,” Briones suggests.
The Anti-Pork barrel rally in Dumaguete City was generally peaceful.
To recall, people clamored for a united protest for the total abolition of PDAF after the news on P10-billion pork barrel scam erupted in the news.
Several protests are also staged in Luneta Park in Manila, Cebu City and other parts of the country. (mbcn/RAL/PIA7-Negros oriental)