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Maintain the rage

HONG KONG (Mabuhay) : A former prime minister of Australia, Gough Whitlam, coined two phrases that have lived on in the Land Down Under, Its Time and Maintain the Rage.

During his election campaign in 1972, he called on the people to oust the long ruling government and elect him instead, using a catchy jingle, Its time, yes its time, yes its time.

Then four years later, when his government was dismissed by the governor general in 1975 he called on his angry supporters to Maintain the Rage.

The two phrases put together are more than apt for Filipinos at this time of anger over the Pork Barrel Scandal.

Yes, it is indeed time for Filipinos to maintain the rage.

Bishops in The Philippines are encouraging their people to keep up the pressure on the congress and the president, Noynoy Aquino, to scrap the whole system of congress members allocating what is meant to be development money, but in reality is mostly used to shore up votes, pay election costs and fill congressional pockets.

Father Emil Lim was in the streets of Hong Kong on October 14 leading around 1,000 people in maintaining the rage against the Pork Barrel System.

Walking at the head of a rally that snaked its way from Ice House Street and Chater Road to the Philippine Consulate General offices in Admiralty, he and Father Dwight de la Torre, from the Independent Church of The Philippines, handed a statement signed by 80 different community groups to a consulate representative to be delivered to Malacañang.

Titled, Unity Statement of the Hong Kong Filipino Community Against the Pork Barrel, the statements reads, “We, Filipinos in Hong Kong stand against the Pork Barrel System and the corruption it breeds. We stand for moral regeneration and political changes that genuinely benefit the people.”

Father Lim told Mabuhay that it is not his custom to head political rallies in the streets, however, he believes that this issue is different, as it is tantamount to a theft of the people’s money.

“It is not the amount of money involved,” he said, “but the manner in which it is used. It should be placed in mainstream budget and be available for distribution in the normal manner, not at the discretion of the congress members and president.”

Participants in the march pointed to the terrible state of hospitals in The Philippines.

“They are so overcrowded you cannot get in, and even if you do you have to share a bed with other people and then if you do not have money, you do not get treated,” one pointed out.

Nevertheless, she said that in a funny way she believes the current scandal surrounding the Pork Barrel is a good thing, as she did not know that such rackets were going on before. “I have learned a lot about the depth of corruption in my country that I did not know before,” she said. “I am truly shocked.”

Such a comment coming from a well educated Filipino may reflect two things—the general apathy of the Philippine community towards what is going on around them or a lack of information in the popular media about political issues, as the mechanisms of the Pork Barrel and the depth of corruption in government is well known overseas.

A press release from the Unity Group describes the Pork Barrel as being reintroduced during the presidency of Corazon Aquino.

Pork Barrel now goes by many names and forms, the President’s Social Fund, the Priority Development Assistance Fund, Disbursement Acceleration Programme, the Empowerment Fund, the Un-Programmed Fund and the Malampaya Fund.

“Whatever the name is, the corruption is astounding and shows a system that is flawed and serves merely the rich and powerful at the expense of the people,” the statement reads.

It adds that the exposure of Janet Napoles’ 10-billion peso ($1.85 billion) non-government organisation scam involving congress members opened the floodgates for the discovery of the extent and intensity of the problem.

“From the halls of the congress to the offices in Malacañang, the gross immorality and irregularity of the Pork Barrel System that gives legislators 25 billion pesos ($4.63 billion) and the president with 1.3 trillion pesos ($24 billion) in discretionary funds is rapidly becoming apparent,” it concludes.


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