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Activist groups’ call no hypocrisy

10:36 PM September 06, 2013

This is in reaction to the Inquirer’s Aug. 28 editorial, “Collective guilt,” which accused members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives of hypocrisy for pushing for the abolition of the pork barrel even as we availed ourselves of it. It also insinuated that activist groups planned to “hog the stage and the streets” during the Aug. 26 Million People March.

These accusations are biased and unfair, to say the least. The seven representatives of Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Act Teachers and Kabataan were the first to file the bill for the abolition of the pork barrel system last July 16 as a prompt response to the series of Inquirer reports on the Napoles pork barrel scam. They followed this up with a declaration last Aug. 5 that they will not access their PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) allocations—precisely to show seriousness and solidarity with the people’s intensifying clamor for the abolition of the pork barrel. We have been pushing for the abolition or reduction of the PDAF since 2001. As for other lump-sum allocations, we have advocated for line item budgeting. But we were voices in the wilderness of Congress.

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It was with great enthusiasm therefore that we renewed the fight for the abolition of the pork barrel system in the wake of the public outrage brought about by the Inquirer exposé and the subsequent 2007-2009 Commission on Audit report.

It is no secret that from 2001 to 2004 and again from 2010 to 2013, we used our PDAF allocations to fund much-needed projects and services for our constituents. We believed that in properly and judiciously using the funds, we were doing our people a service. We never hid this from the public, as the editorial alleged. Please note that none of our projects and none of our representatives have been tainted by any anomaly or corruption.

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We are not afraid to lose the pork barrel. In fact, Bayan Muna and other progressive parties continued to fulfill their duties well when the Arroyo regime denied us the PDAF from 2005 to 2010 and murdered hundreds of our members and supporters.

Even as we strived to make good use of our PDAF allocations, these in no way alter the rotten character of the pork barrel system as a whole. The system  is a source of corruption and political patronage for many and a tool of the president to control Congress. On this, we draw the line against President Aquino’s wrong view that the pork barrel system is generally good, only that a few misused and abused it.

On the Aug. 26 protest, we complied with arrangements to let the unorganized individuals take the front and middle portion of the ground facing the stage. The intrigue that we planned to hog the stage was clearly unfounded.

The herculean effort to abolish the pork barrel system will require the unity and participation of a broad array of forces from all political persuasions and the mobilization of the people in their millions. All forces, efforts and initiatives toward the common objective must be welcomed.

—TEDDY CASIÑO,
former representative,
Bayan Muna Party List

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TAGS: Letters to the Editor, Million People March, opinion, PDAF, pork barrel, pork barrel scam, Priority Development Assistance Fund, Teddy Casiño
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