Friday, September 13, 2013

More anti-pork vigils urged as ‘EDSA Tayo’ sends hopes soaring

More anti-pork vigils urged as ‘EDSA Tayo’ sends hopes soaring

By Kristine Angeli Sabillo
7:49 pm | Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
Participants raise their fists during the anti-pork barrel vigil held at Edsa Shrine, Wednesday. INQUIRER/JOAN BONDOC
MANILA, Philippines – “EDSA Tayo” brought us happiness and hope, said one of the organizers of the anti-pork barrel prayer vigil on Wednesday.
Junep Ocampo said the issue of discretionary funds makes the people angry but events such as “EDSA Tayo” make them feel that there is hope for Filipinos. 

Organizers and participating groups all called for subsequent vigils and protests in the coming weeks. Some are looking forward to rallies scheduled for September 13 and 21.
“There is still hope for the Filipino as long as we are together, studying collectively, praying together, conversing with each other,” Ocampo said. 

Ocampo said about 5,000 people joined the vigil at the historic EDSA Shrine, the same number of people they expected to come, especially because it was a working day.
A diverse group of protesters joined Wednesday’s prayer vigil. 

Among the early attendees was former Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez who called for more demonstrations and media campaigns will deal a death blow to the pork barrel system. 

While hundreds filled the air-conditioned church for the morning novena, small groups, students and vendors loitered outside with anti-pork barrel protest materials. 

Rogelio Palad, a 69-year old retired businessman, was among the individuals who went to EDSA to express their personal sentiments against corruption in the government. 

Wearing his protest sandwich board and holding an asthma inhaler in one hand, Palad wept as he narrated to anyone willing to listen how he went all the way to Manila from Cabanatuan City to express his disgust the Aquino administration. 

“Tama na ang pagnanakaw! Humihirit pa sila eh. Ibig pang magnakaw. Ayaw nilang pumayag na walang pork barrel. Eh di hanggang sa maghirap na lang tayo ng maghirap,” he said. 

(“Enough stealing!  They still want more. They want to steal. They won’t let the pork barrel be abolished. It will just result in us getting poorer and poorer,” he said.
Vendors at the shrine made a killing by selling their regular wares or special anti-pork shirts worth P250. 

Meanwhile, groups such as and Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption set up their petition signing booths. 

A couple of groups were also confronted by the police for bringing in streamers and banners, which were later confiscated or put down. Police maintained that organizers prohibited the use of such protest materials because the event was a prayer vigil.
At around noon, Rev. Fr. Noli Mangussad officiated a special Mass attended predominantly by religious groups and middle-class individuals wearing white. Mangussad called for vigilance as people prayed that those in power become enlightened. 

The much-awaited lecture by Professor Winnie Monsod was, however, canceled because of a disagreement with the Catholic Church. EDSA Shrine coordinators said they did not allow political lectures inside the church. 

“The amount that went to Congress went up by 115 times. Do you know how much the price of commodities increased [since 1989]? Four times only! Eh di syempre talagang magagalit ka sa sakim. Hindi ba? (Of course, you’ll get mad at greed.)” Monsod said during an ambush interview. 

She said the different forms of protest, such as rallies, are important but the final judgment is still the vote of the people. 

“Can you imagine if there is no more PDAF? Not just PDAF but the pork barrel…there will be no dividends for congressmen. Maybe those corrupt politicians will no longer run. Who will run? Politicians who really care for the country,” Monsod added. 

In the afternoon, former national treasurer Leonor Briones gave a lecture outside the EDSA Shrine. 

Fr. Joe Dizon then headed an interfaith of Muslims, Christians and indigenous peoples groups. 

It was during this time that militant groups including Bagong Alyansang Makabayan were barred by police from joining the vigil. 

But people at EDSA Shrine chanted, “Papasukin! (Let them in!)” until police gave in.




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