NEW YORK – In solidarity with the one million anti-pork barrel protests happening in key cities around the world, nearly 200 Filipinos from the tri-state came in full force at the Philippine Consulate in New York to hold President Aquino accountable.
Their demand: abolish both the corruption-ridden Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF and President Aquino's own "pork barrel system".
Community leader Loida Nicolas Lewis of the US Pinoys for Good Governance said Philippine senators and congressmen should be pork-barrel free after abusing the system.
Merit Salud of the Filipino-American Legal Defense Fund said those involved in stealing pork money should be investigated, prosecuted and convicted.
Bayan USA's Gary Labao said that 57% of the Philippine's national budget goes to what they call the "Presidential Pork", under his special purpose funds, unprogrammed and lump-sum funds.
in 2014 the Philippine government is allocating P1-trillion of its P2.6-trillion budget to the Presidential Pork according to Migrante International.
Labao said the stolen pork money could have been used to alleviate, if not, fix issues such as garbage and flooding in Metro Manila.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said last Friday that the P25.2 billion pork barrel fund is not going away. It's still included in the 2014 budget.
He said it could still be used to fund "legitimate beneficiaries" under a reformed mechanism that is more transparent that taxpayers could trust.
But protestors here say it's the same pork with a different name. They must be totally abolished. The issue of graft and corruption in the Philippines is felt all the way to the US.
Damayan Migrant Workers Association leader Linda Oalican said these abolished funds should be rechanneled to underfunded government agencies such as those that help overseas Filipino workers.
Lewis added, come 2016 it's up to the Filipino voters, including overseas absentee voters, from around the world to clean up the Philippine government by voting what she calls the rascals out and electing the good ones in.