Fil-Ams hope Obama intervenes in 'pork barrel' issue

by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Sep 16 2013 01:09 PM | Updated as of Sep 17 2013 07:10 PM

LONG BEACH, California - President Obama is going to make a stop to the Philippines in October, and Filipino American community leaders are proud of the occasion.

"I was excited when I heard the news last night that Obama will finally go to the Philippines. Because there are lots of issues, national issues that America could assist and support," said Susan Dilkes of the Filipino American Service Group Inc.

The US president's visit comes shortly after US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's visit. Obama's visit comes as the country is dealing with several issues including public corruption, natural disasters, violence in Zamboanga, and tensions in the West Philippine Sea with China.

Filipinos in Los Angeles, where a lot of the slagged ill-gotten funds is believe to have been spent, hope Obama can address the pork barrel issue.

"Obama should push President Aquino to look into Congress about the pork barrel scam since this is an issue that affects all Filipinos globally... Obama should talk to President Aquino to make it a clean government," Dilkes said.

"If the US likes to say they oppose human rights then they should say something about that and call investigation into the pork barrel," Terrie Cervas of Gabriela said.

For the past few months, Filipino activists have been calling for the abolition of the pork barrel system, including President Aquino's own discretionary funds.

They fear Aquino may use Obama's visit to his advantage.

"For Aquino, this is a way for him to get some public relations points, photo ops with Obama and try to make it seem like he still has the US support even amidst all these scandals involving him with the corruption, pork barrel and the clashes in Zamboanga. He really needs to show that the US is supporting him," Eric Tandoc of Anakbayan Los Angeles said.

Obama will visit several other Asian countries during his tour where he will attend summits and meet with other Southeast Asian leaders.

The last US president to visit the Philippines was George W. Bush 10 years ago.