Protester tells PNoy: We're not on the same side

Posted at 08/27/13 3:01 PM

MANILA - An organizer of the Million People March against the pork barrel in Rizal Park refuted Malacañang's assertion that it is on the same side with the protesters.

Organizer Peachy Rallonza-Bretaña said Malacañang did not heed the call of various groups to abolish all forms of pork barrel but only abolished the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers.

"Ang panawagan ho ng tao ay alisin ang pork barrel. Ang layunin po ng Malacanang or ng gobyerno ay hindi alisin ang pork barrel. Iba ho e. So parang hindi ho tugma, iniba lang nila nang kaunti kaya hindi masasabing pareho ng layunin," she said in a radio dzMM interview.

However, Bretaña said the Aquino administration should also be given time to continue its investigation on the pork barrel scam, to prosecute those responsible and be transparent in the use of pork barrel funds.

Tens of thousands of Filipinos marched to Rizal Park on Monday to protest against what they call a legalized system of corruption.

Bretaña said some protesters came from as far as Laguna and Olongapo.

The protesters called for an end to the pork barrel system, which allots funds to the president and lawmakers, supposedly for development projects and emergency response.

But revelations that lawmakers have channeled about P10 billion of these funds to fake charities, allegedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, have sparked public outrage.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda earlier said the Palace shares the outrage that the protesters feel against the misuse of public funds.

“Whether a million po ‘yan or 60,000 pa lang, the message is clear: We are on the same side. We are on the same side. Laban ho tayo sa corruption,” Lacierda told reporters.

In the interviewBretaña said an inter-agency probe on the scandal should have a time frame and lead to prosecution of lawmakers linked to the scam.

She said the Commission on Audit should also present its findings on the use of the pork barrel under President Aquino.

"Walang pilian, lahatan na. 'Yun lang ang paraan para mapaniwala ang mga tao na totoong nag-aayos na ang ating gobyerno," she said.

Asked if she is hopeful of a conviction in the pork scam probe, she said: "Sana. Ako ay hopeful, ako ay umaasa."

Bretaña also pointed out that it is not "political suicide" for President Aquino to completely abolish the pork barrel system especially since he will not be running for a second term.

"Ito na ang panahon para iwanan niya ng legacy ang kanyang pamumuno. Yung paglilinis ng buong kawatan ng gobyerno, para yung mga susunod, hindi na pwedeng mangyari ulit. May check and balance na ang buong sistema," she said. With a report by Reuters