Last September 11, 2013, the university had the Understanding Pork: Forum on the PDAF Issues at the Finster Auditorium.
The program started around 3:51 pm and was hosted by Brent Harvey Jimenez.
Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ used a quote from Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” to explain his side on his welcoming address.
“We live in the best of times and the worst of times,” he started.
Father Tabora explained that the worst of times include winds of failed promises and toppled hopes. The best of times include the labeling of the Philippines as an emerging tiger in Asia.
“Through this workshop we will find the light in the worst of times… to finally slaughter this pig and deal a death blow to the corruption it produced,” he finished.
The facilitator of the forum was Mags Maglana. She introduced the speakers and informed them that they only have five minutes to explain each of their points.
The first speaker was Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate from Bayan Muna Partylist. He stated that the Makabayan block passed House Bill 1535 to abolish pork in the 2014 budget. However, it has problems.
He also stated how PNoy failed or did not mention the pork barrel in his SONA on purpose. In short, he explained that “the pork barrel is an institutional patronage that officially tolerated graft and corruption.”
He added that PNoy’s anti-corruption campaign already lost its credibility.
The second speaker was Atty. Rodolfo Elman, the Assistant Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao. He started with the words “shocking, disgusting, repulsive, outrageous” that people usually say regarding the 10-billion pork barrel scam.
“Justice should be served, Filipinos demand no less,” he expressed
The third speaker was Prof. Ramon Beleno from the Political Science and History department of Ateneo de Davao University. He explained how the pork barrel system works.
“It’s a fund to help the people. It can’t be used unless there is a project. That project must also be approved by the Department of Budget. After, it will go directly to the implementers not to the congressmen,” he said.
“There is lack of transparency, lack of accountability, patronage politics and there is no checking mechanism,” he enumerated.
He also gave his recommendations of scrapping PDAF and making a new system where the benefit of the people is the priority.
“We must hold the people involved accountable,” he added.
He ended by challenging the youth through the words of Kurt Cobain: “the duty of the youth is to challenge corruption.”
The fourth speaker was Atty. Fatima Irene Adin, spokesperson of PAGBABAGO! People’s Movement for Change.
She explained what PAGBABAGO! demands in three points: First, the abolishment of pork barrel; second, the rechanneling of the funds and third, the “prosecution for these people to answer.”
The fifth and last speaker was Hadji Balajadia of the university’s Psychology Department. He acknowledged the Supreme Court’s restraining order as a good step.
He then added that the scandalous 10B pork barrel scam is “unquestionably a symptom of social cancer.” He explained that the pork barrel issue is politically traumatic but it united the Filipinos into solidarity.
He also said that it is imperative that the pork should be abolished and those involved must be prosecuted.
He finished with a striking statement: “Time is running Mr. President. We, your boss, are getting impatient.”
After the commentaries, a panel discussion followed. Maglana summed up the commentaries and discussion to four points.
First, pork is any lump sum allocation that is discretionary. It is a system and a culture.
Second was the responses of the people: “We should scrap the pork from the budget, hold people accountable and prosecute does who are responsible.”
Third, what about us? There should be continued resistance both in macro and micro.
Fourth, the country is currently at the best of times and worst of times because there are representatives speaking against pork.
“Whoever said Filipinos can never be politically mature? You are very wrong,” Maglana finished.
Robin Tongcua, President of the Samahan Central Board, then followed for the reading of statement from the students.
“We, the SAMAHAN, denounce graft, corruption and patronage of politics,” he started.
“We must commit to be the pag-asa ng bayan,” Tongua said as he challenged the students as members of the youth.
He explained that it was a “call to action, to remain vigilant, never for private interests but always for the common good.”
Professor Anderson Villa from PAGBABAGO! People’s Movement for Change forwarded another challenge for the audience.
“Start with yourself, community, colleagues. Start discussing the issue instead of being entangled with personal gossiping,” he said.
Anderson reiterated that if nobody will care, the people would all be doomed.
“Do not ask what the government can do for you, ask what you can do for the country,” he quoted.
Atty. Arnold Abejaron, executive secretary of UCEAC then gave his closing remarks.
A candle lighting ceremony at the Freedom park followed the forum.