MANILA - Organizers of the Million People March in Makati City on Friday said they will renew their call to scrap all pork barrel funds including the controversial disbursement acceleration program (DAP) of the Department of Budget and Management.
Patricia Tan, spokesperson of the Scrap Pork Network, said the DAP is a form of pork barrel because of the discretionary power given to President Aquino and lawmakers over the fund.
"We consider that as pork. Kasama siya sa pork kasi isang definition of pork for us would be kailangan mo pa siyang ibigay sa legislators. Sinabi nga nila the P50 million for each senator came from DAP," she said in an interview on ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda.
Tan, however, said there is no proof that the DAP fund releases were used to bribe senators to convict Chief Justice Renato Corona during his impeachment trial.
"Mahirap kasi siya i-connect na eksaktong ganun yung nangyari. Sinasabi lang nila pero sa ngayon wala pa naman lumalabas na pruweba o witness. Sana kung may isang senador na sinasabi niya pinangakuan ako ng P50 million para bumoto ng convict siguro yun masasabi natin na na-impluwensiya. Pero kahit si Jinggoy sinasabi niya na tinanggap niya na nakatanggap ako ng pondo pero hindi nakaimpluwensiya ng boto ko," she said.
"Maybe if somebody comes out and says: 'Yes, I voted to convict because I was promised P50 million.' Nobody has said that," she added.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada first revealed the DAP after saying in a privilege speech that he got an additional P50 million in funds after he voted to convict Chief Justice Renato Corona in his Senate impeachment trial.
Estrada said the additional funds did not influence his vote in the Corona trial.
Budget Secretary Butch Abad earlier said the DAP was established to ramp up government spending after sluggish disbursements caused the country's GDP growth to slow down to just 3.6% in 2011.
He explained that aside from savings of agencies, the DAP is also comprised of unprogrammed funds due to revenues generated beyond the target such as GOCC (government-owned and controlled corporation) dividends, and budgets for slow-moving items or projects that have been realigned to support faster-disbursing projects.
Atty. Michelle Estor, a government employee, said participants in the anti-pork rally want to remove the discretionary powers of officials over public funds. She said it would be better to identify which projects would be funded by taxpayers' money before the funds are disbursed.
"What we want to remove is patronage politics, where people feel indebted because they were given money and projects," she said.
She said protesters will continue to call on government to scrap all kinds of pork barrel funds, punish those who pocketed the priority development assistance funds and make an accounting of how much pork has been spent.
The organizers also said they do not support calls for the ouster of President Aquino but said they cannot prevent people who have that agenda from joining the march.
"Hindi natin mapi-prevent 'yan. We have to be realistic na posibleng mangyari 'yan either a genuine push for that kind of call, which the Million People March does not share or may gustong manggulo," Estor said.
She said volunteer organizations joining the march have agreed that any call for Aquino's ouster will not be supported.
“Wala 'yan sa usapan. We will do everything in our power not to turn the rally into that situation. Linawin natin na walang call for PNoy to resign. Hindi 'yan ang panawagan ng Million People March. Ayaw naming magkaganun ang mangyayari mamaya,” she said.
She added that a change in leadership is not the solution to the problem about the pork barrel.
The Million People March will start at 3 p.m. at the Ayala corner Paseo de Roxas. A program will follow at 5 p.m., where several personalities including former National Treasurer Leonor Briones, Church leaders and Justice stakeholders will commit to “scrap pork.”
Performers include Lolita Carbon, Cookie Chua, Bayang Barrios, Jograd dela Torre, Darryl Shy and others.