While welcoming the neophyte legislators’ manifesto on the 2014 Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), women’s groups belonging to the World March of Women-Pilipinas (WMW) and the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court (PC-ICC) want lawmakers to ensure the complete abolition of the entire pork barrel system, and the punishment of guilty legislators and their conspirators.
Women dancers who appeared to be lobbyists in formal attire started to occupy the Congress lobby at 2PM today, to make a clear statement that creative actions will be sustained until they see the people’s victory on this issue. The House Committee on Appropriations will be held today and the plenary debate is yet to happen on September 21.
“The abolition of all forms of pork is not even assured yet, and they refuse to touch the President’s pork,” said Jean Enriquez, Coordinator of WMW-Pilipinas. Enriquez added that the legislators’ basis for keeping the President’s pork is untenable.
The neophyte legislators earlier said that it cannot be touched because it is meant for calamities and emergency situations.
“It has already been proposed that the calamity fund within the Special Purpose Fund (SPF) could be allocated to the unit on climate change or disaster management. The other items under the SPF should similarly be allocated under the regular budgets of the pertinent government agencies,” remarked Enriquez.
“We propose that a reallocation of pork be towards social services, such as preventive and integrative healthcare,” according to Pangging Santos of SARILAYA.
“Malacanang’s reasoning that the SPF does not come from people’s taxes but from contributions of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), among others, is non-sequitur. This is still public fund – the people’s money,” according Enriquez.
Becky Lozada, a member of the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court, who joined the dance said “the PDAF scam is criminal considering the situation of poor people in the country. We are dancing today to show our protest but there is violence and armed conflict in the country because of massive poverty. Imagine what can be done if we abolish pork and put public funds to services for the people.”
Towards the end of the dance, the women took off their formal clothing to reveal shirts with the slogan “Scrap Pork!” They also held a banner with the message “Jail the Corrupt Lawmakers!”
The 30 flashmobbers of WMW include women from the Alliance of Progressive Labor-SENTRO, Bagong Kamalayan, CATW-AP, Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA), KAISA-KA, SARILAYA, Pambansang Koalisyon ng mga Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK), WomanHealth Philippines, and the Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality (YSAGE). They pledged to appear elsewhere “until pork in all its forms is removed, thieves jailed and the Freedom of Information Act passed.”