Pork protesters urged to maintain ‘proactive vigilance’

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MANILA, Sept. 13, 2013—In yet another mass gathering that calls for the abolition of the widely denounced pork barrel system, a Catholic priest urged Filipinos to be more vigilant in their day-to-day living to effectively guard the nation against cases of political corruption. 

EDSA Shrine rector Fr. Nilo Mangussad said a special kind of vigilance must be practiced by the faithful to keep a close watch and continuous attention on matters that hound the nation.

“When we say vigilance, it is not being reactive, but rather proactive. As children of God, we are supposed to be proactive in our lives,” he said in his homily during the “Edsa Tayo” interfaith vigil held last Wednesday. 

Mangussad added that being proactive does not only pertain to one’s activeness to participate, rather it means understanding an issue deeply and initiating necessary actions to address it. 

“Vigilance is not only keeping watch. It is also paying careful attention. It is not simply snooping, but it is a means for orientation and understanding. It is not a means to get even, but a means of enlightenment,” he said. 

The priest reminded the faithful to anchor their proactive leaning to the Divine so they will not be easily swayed by the manipulation of others. 

“When we are being vigilant, are we being proactive that we are being influenced by the hands of our Lord? Or are we being reactive while we are being influenced by the manipulative hands of mere men?” he asked the laity. 

Around 1,200 concerned Filipinos gathered at the EDSA Shrine on Wednesday to echo calls for the abolition of lump-sum appropriation in government finances. 

The event was a follow-through of the citizen-led Million People March held last August 26 that gathered thousands of Filipinos in Luneta to display their disgust against the appalling cases of fund misuse in the government. 

Protest vs ‘pork’ 

Among those who attended the mass gathering was Rogelio Palad, a 70-year old retired balot dealer who traveled all the way from Cabanatuan just to express his sentiments over the corrupt practices buffeting the government. 

“The issue keeps on repeating and it seems like nothing is happening with the efforts of our government,” he said in the vernacular. 

Noting that he joined the mass gathering to fight for the future of his grandchildren, Palad urged Filipinos to voice out their sentiments over the prevalence of corruption in the country. 

“Voice out what you feel because if you will remain mum over the issue, nothing will happen. All of us will end up suffering in hunger and poverty,” he said. 

Diony Oreda, 53, and Tom Olivar, 55, cyclists from the United Bikers of Marikina also expressed outrage and disgust over the P10-billion pork barrel scam. 

“The government must bring justice to the people. Those who will be proven guilty must be punished. It is very disheartening for us who work hard and even dedicate our blood and sweat just to earn a living,” Oreda said in Filipino. 

“This explains the reason why a lot of individuals are dying just to be a congressman or party-list member. It is because [an] immense amount of government funds are there,” Olivar said. 

Linda Buncales, 52, echoed the same sentiment, noting that a lot of people who are actually suffering must be made the rightful recipients of government funds. 

“It is enraging to know that while a lot of people are tied to the shackles of poverty, the taxes we paid are just being squandered by others,” she said in the vernacular. 

Percival Rodriguez, 67, said the fight against the pork barrel scheme must be continued for the sake of the future generation who will reap the consequences of today. 

“We are not doing this for us, but for our children and even to those who are not yet born. They are the ones to suffer if we won’t act over the issue,” Rodriguez said. 

“If those involved in the scam are proven guilty and the government will not do anything to bring justice to the people, it is time to incite another revolution. I don’t think the people could endure this injustice any longer,” he added. 

Moral and spiritual crisis 

Religious brother Martin Francisco, 48, from the Blessed Sacrament Missionaries of the poor said the issue at-hand is not just a political and economic matter, rather it has become a spiritual and moral concern that has deeply affected the nation. 

“This is not just a simple case of stealing. This is a system of corruption with a lot of standard operating procedures and intricate transactions,” he said. 

Describing the government investigation as slow-paced and play safe, Francisco urged the people to pray for the resolution of this crisis that has plagued the government. 

“Let us pray and lead a life of conversion. The issue faced by our government is not a simple concern, but a spiritual and moral crisis as people involved in the scam seem to have lost their conscience,” he added. 

Despite falling short of the estimated 5,000 people to join the “Edsa Tayo” mass gathering, Filipinos from all walks of life remained steadfast and passionate in rallying for their cause of demanding transparency and accountability in the government. (Jennifer Orillaza) 

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