Category: advocacy

tracking cj puno, initiative, pork

suddenly former chief justice reynato puno is all over the place, even making headlines.  ‘Bribery’ voids Corona impeachment — Puno screamed the manila times yesterday.  and i can’t help wondering if he is why the president felt compelled to go on nationwide primetime tv last night.  unfortunately the prez didn’t say anything new.  on social media people talk about having made abang, expecting something huge, something that would halt the fall, change the game, level it up.  alas.  back to the streets it is.

so, does the palace have reason to fear puno’s call for people’s initiative and referendum vs. PDAF, DAP, and all discretionary funds?  the logistics are difficult and complicated but, still, doable, and puno even has a timetable: he will be done drafting the petition sometime this november, and sees the referendum happening in january 2014.  (hmm, alam na kaya ng comelec ito?)  i suppose puno knows what he’s doing, he knows what went wrong with pirma’s chacha attempt via initiative in 1997, and there is every possibility that he might do fvr better.

and there’s the catch.  is puno thinking anti-pork lang or is there a chacha scenario farther on?  oct 8 it was when puno first sounded the call for a people’s initiative to abolish all pork. just eleven days later, oct 19, carmen pedrosa announced in her philstar column that puno had agreed to become the symbol and advocate of “crowdsourcing a new Constitution for a new Philippines.”

alarm bells ringing and all that.  i’ve made no bones about it on this blog, i’m against charter change that seeks (1) to shift us from presidential to parliamentary/federal system and (2) to delete economic provisions that limit foreign ownership of land atbp.  this is not to say that i would not welcome a serious public debate on these two issues via a website that might inspire and inform debates on print, radio, and television.  but i’m not sure that this is the right time for it.  not until the pork issue is settled, how ever long it takes.

besides, puno’s reputation is not all that sterling.  he has some owning-up to do if he hopes to win hearts and minds.  read ‘Unmitigated hypocrisy’ by lawyer democrito c. barcenas and then go back in time to President Puno? and Who’s Hot, and Who’s Not by antonio c. abaya, 2009.  the comment threads are also quite enlightening.

notes on makati the rally

i had not planned to go, thinking that katrina could move more freely, even help out backstage as she did in previous rallies, if she didn’t have her nanay to make alalay, pero ang bumungad sa akin sa facebook that morning were many statuses altogether warning of evil forces out to hijack the scrapPork movement, the alleged agenda being to shift public anger away from charged plunderers enrile, estrada, revilla over their thieving use of millions of PDAF bucks, and to redirect the fury toward the president and his budget sec abad for channeling billions in savings into a DAP for porkbarrel-like purposes, which (it is feared) could only lead to oust-aquino conspiracies fuelled and funded by the sinister forces embodied by enrile estrada revilla if not the binays and the marcoses, among other threatened oligarchs.

it reminded me that from the first luneta rally, the call was already for the abolition of ALL pork.  this was long before the DAP expose(y), when all we were going on was leonor briones’s and neri colmenares’s detailing of the 2014 budget’s trillion pesos in presidential pork that included billions in unspecified special purpose funds from which the PDAF is drawn.  even then, there were dissenters who carefully, deliberately, went on the record to say they were for reform, not abolition, but that they were going to luneta anyway.  this time, it would seem, they chose to stay away and just nag, kibitz, from the bleachers.

i wondered, even then, why they did not organize their own march instead, in support of the president’s promise to reform the pork barrel system.  and i ask now, why do they not organize their own rally instead, in support of DAP, i.e., in support of the president through thick and thin, through tuwidnadaan and likoliko, simply because there is no one better and an ouster would mean a dreaded binay presidency?  the pro-PNoy contingent should be a huge one, if we go by the trust ratings.  or maybe, not all might be willing to surface as they could be suspected of vested interests, e.g., kumikita, nakikinabang, directly or indirectly, somehow, somewhere, sometimes, sa pork barrel system?

because, seriously, if their disapproval of the abolish-all-pork movement is purely the major major fear of an underhanded hijack by the marcoses and enriles and estradas that would install binay and UNA, then they are only contributing to that very possibility by criticizing the movement from the outside, i.e., by being divisive rather than being part of the united front and helping keep the devils at bay from the inside.  nakakahinayang dahil karamihan sa mga negang ito sa social media ay kabilang sa kulturati’t literating tinatawag, napakarami nilang followers, ang daming bilib, naniniwala, sa kanila, and i’m not even counting the purely sipsip.

at tungkol naman sa puna na sa kababanat sa pangulo at sa kanyang pork, hindi na nababanggit sina enrile, revilla, at estrada, na tila daw pinapawalang-sala na ang mga ito…   on the contrary.  huling huli na ang mga ito, may nakalap nang mga ebidensiya, may kaso nang nakasampa sa ombudsman, and we are trusting that the justice system will finish the job.  meanwhile, puwede nang ibaling ang atensiyon sa iba pang legislators na hinihinala rin ng publiko na kumita rin ng limpaklimpak na kickback sa PDAF at DAP, pinagnakawan rin ang bayan, ngunit kung magsalita at umasta ay para bagang mga santo santito.

at totoo rin naman na sa pangulo, higit sa lahat, nakatuon nakadiin nakatutok ang pinakamatitindi at nanggagalaiting puna.  after all, it is the executive department that has the power to abolish all pork and investigate and take to court all plunderers.  also, it is the executive department that is called on to come up with an alternative strategy, clean and coherent and competent, for inclusive economic growth.  alas, he has instead, along with congress, asked the supreme court to lift the TRO on the remaining PDAF.  mapapatanong ka: sino kaya talaga ang boss niya?

as for the suspicion that the rallies are being funded by forces out to oust the prez… as far as i know, the groups comprising the broad scrapPork coalition, from left right and center, all contribute what they can to the cause.  and from what i saw of the makati rally, i’m convinced there’s no money going around to either mess up or disrupt or hijack the movement.  if anything, the makati rally was such a level-up from the luneta march-cum-picnic where people and groups were scattered and largely left to their own devices.

in fact it’s the best rally i’ve been to yet.  it didn’t feel like a small crowd that gathered around the stage, and it was quite a mixed crowd, seemed like a micro of the macro that went to luneta, including the guardians who went on stage briefly to express their support.  the messages from the different sectors were focused.  mini-lectures by liddy nakpil, ganni tapang, and leonor briones, complete with pie charts atbp., in simple tagalog that everyone could understand, were enlightening, reinforcing, affirming.  a brief but pointed speech from national artist for literature bien lumbera promised the president na hindi ito tatantanan at patuloy na uukilkilin hanggat di naa-abolish ang pork.  mae paner was a riot — oo nga, ninoy, tulungan mo naman kami… lol, laughter to kill the pain.  and the music, especially the songs of the tres marias (cooky chua, lolita carbon, and bayang barrios), songs of love for nation, touched deeply.  and coritha singing her anthems to freedom back in the bad old days of martial rule was an eloquent reminder of how little has changed since that freedom was won.

here’s a quickie kuwento from mae paner, swiped (with her permission) from a facebook thread that was an interesting — even upbeat, despite the fears and disagreements — postmortem on the ayala rally.

Mae Paner : sa MPM@Ayala kasama ko ang mga taong simbahan may mga militar na tahimik na sumusuporta, at ang mga kabataan na maalab ang damdamin di mawawala, tried and tested na mga manggagawa, magbubukid, at propesyunal. kasama rin ang mga netizens. meron pang kasamang mga nasa gobyerno- naks! ilang milyonaryong bonggang-bongga, ang cute ng mga matronang mayayaman na mga naka suot ng snout na bago magpakuha ng litrato ay nagsabing we are against pork but pro PNoy ha? nakakatuwa ang mga empleyado ng makati na di alintana ang ulan at talagang tinapos ang programa. at syempre touched ako sa mga kapwa ko artista. natuwa ako sa paglilinaw ni cookie chua kung oust PNoy daw ba ang ng rally. at nung magtiwalang HINDI ito oust PNoy ay nagpaunlak sya. at ang parte nya w bayang barrios at lolita carbon ay highlight ng gabi. mabuhay kayong tres marias. ang konek nila sa audience ay super bongga. pero may mga tao akong na-miss na rally na ito. ang ilang dati kong mga kasamang hindi ko na nakikita. na-miss ko na kayo. promise! malungkot dahil nung i-suggest ang inyong mga pangalan, may mga nagsabing huwag muna sila ngayon. sana sa future may dahilan ulit para magsama tayo. naalala ko ang isang line na isinulat ni Rodolfo sa pelikulang juana c. the movie, “HIndi lahat ng kakampi mo ay kakampi mo sa lahat ng bagay.”

true.  but, yes, good to keep lines of communication open.  dapat ay kayang pag-usapan nang mahinahon at bukas-loob ang bawat isyu na humahati sa kilusan kung ibig nating makamit ang pinakaasam na pagbabago.  pag-uusap na totoong level-up.  sabi nga ni junie kalaw the environmentalist in an essay on the new politics, post EDSA (1989) based on the concept of wholeness (the whole is more than the sum of its parts; ang sakit ng kalingkingan ay sakit ng buong katawan):

There are two ways of effecting change: revolution and transformation. In the new politics, transformation is the way to wholeness. Transformation involves the synthesis of opposing forces on a higher level of wholeness. For instance, the conflict between communism and capitalism can only be resolved at a higher level of consciousness. It is the task of politicians to take from each ideology its life-affirming features and to come up with a new ideology that will unify the divided whole. It is a design process, this synthesis and creation of alternatives. It will be the supreme political skill.

[Exploring Soul & Society: Essays on Sustainable DevelopmentAnvil, 1997. 126-127]


Hijackers of the anti-pork movement 

The sum of our “fears”: Defending pork by attacking the Left

Eight concrete calls of the #SCRAPPORK Network

notes on luneta the rally 


By Katrina S.S.

The task, to me at least, seems simple enough. We want to continue the fight against pork barrel. We find it in our hearts to come together, no matter our politics, our religious beliefs, our social class.

The latter of course, as it turns out, is the worst division there is, mostly because it is not something we like—or know— to talk about. Anyone who even had her eyes wide open at the August 26 rally would know that the class distinction of that gathering was about as stark as the white that the middle and upper classes decided to wear. And it was fantastic of course, to see this social class come out of their homes and spend a holiday in a park all the way in Manila with family and friends.

The greatness of each and every instance when the usually apathetic or apolitical go out to the streets is a measure of collective anger and disgust yes; but also it is about faith in collective action.

But no rally happens in a vacuum, and certainly there is no reason to imagine one rally grander than the other, or one kind of protest “new” versus the “old.” We are but the protests that we have been part of, but even more so the ones we ignore. The ones that happen without our hand in it, the ones that are constant and consistent, because these are premised on fundamental issues that have to do with governance and our rights as a people. Those rallies where countless are hurt by police who do not know what maximum tolerance means, or those rallies that don’t get permits because these threaten the powers-that-be. There were the rallies violently dispersed during Martial Law, if not at that last State of the Nation Address.

And yes there was Edsa 1986, as there was Edsa Dos in 2001, and Edsa Tres that same year. We don’t know what to think about second one even as we might have been there; we are scared of that third one just because it wasn’t “us.”

My tendency is to believe that there is value in these rallies, in each and every one, no matter that it’s a motley crew of faculty members dancing in the middle of the State University or thousands of people at a million people march, no matter that it’s an Edsa Shrine filled with people at a prayer vigil or a stage in Luneta that promises a program that includes prayers and speeches, and a rock and rage concert after it.

What matters is how these actions function as signals to government that we are not backing down from this fight against the pork barrel system. What matters is that this time around, activists and militants are not the only one screaming against a systemic dysfunction – which is actually what the disbursement of those pork barrel funds to congressmen and senators is about.

The PDAF and the pork barrel system are one and the same if we consider how these both abet patronage politics and palakasan and kampihan. Because Malacañang’s proposed “new way” of disbursing pork barrel funds to congressmen and senators still allows the fund to be used as the Presidential bargaining chip so he might get his way in Congress and the Senate. This is what we should be discussing at this point, but social class seems to be getting in the way.

Because while we bring to the idea of a rally our class and ideological limitations, our reactions to another’s rally, our preconceived notions about another’s protest action, also reveal exactly the biases that render us disunited.

Edsa Tayo had everything going against it. It called for an Edsa gathering on September 11, a day that people apparently so hate because it is Ferdinand Marcos’s birthday. I honestly think we should just erase it from our calendars, proving as we have that we’d rather not even do anything on this day. And then it wanted to gather at Edsa, which is also apparently a no-no because there is “stigma” attached to the space. Nothing organizer Junep Ocampo says has changed people’s minds, and I have a feeling that it’s because the Edsa Tayo rally has done this anti-pork rally so differently from August 26.

That is, they are not speaking in English, and they are obviously not of the middle to upper class mold. They also decided to push through with the September 11 date, and it seems like this is enough proof for people to think that they are nothing but pro-Marcos destabilizers.

Except that they aren’t. Edsa Tayo – like the August 26 rally – has revised what it said in the beginning, about occupying Edsa and staying there until the pork barrel is scrapped. Edsa Tayo has become a prayer vigil that has the support of the Edsa Shrine’s Rector Fr. Nilo Mangusad who will lead the mass. Edsa Tayo is but a small group of individuals that made a call on Facebook that the next anti-pork protest action be on Edsa. They spoke in Filipino. And they have been wrongly judged. By the time this piece comes out, the people behind Edsa Tayo will have proved the world wrong.

But people on this side of the world aren’t ones to admit mistakes, especially when there is a social media echo chamber that allows us to believe that we are correct about everything, that what we say – as long as enough people agree with us – is the only truth. It becomes easy as such to spread suspicions and make these into truths; it becomes easy to put up a Facebook status or write an opinion column, never mind that it is absolutely misinformed, if not turns upon its own ignorance – or arrogance.

Meanwhile, we let ourselves be used by government in its task of dividing and conquering its critics. And while we like to imagine that this only proves we are diverse, I think that ultimately this proves our lack of faith in others. We have no faith in the possibility that another group, another set of people, another individual, another organization will take this cause on. We have no faith in collective action, the kind that unseats dictators, yes. But also the kind that can demand for change and see it through.

You want to be suspicious? Start with government and its maneuverings and its spins. You want to continue this fight against the pork barrel system? Have a little more faith.

Let a hundred rallies bloom

By Katrina Stuart Santiago

The aftermath of the August 26 rally has been radio silence, at least if what we were waiting for from its organizers was a plan, a vision, if not at the very least a bigger picture against which we could plot a continued fight against the pork barrel system.

Granted that the Million People March liked to call itself leaderless, and was made up of the “not organized” or the “not affiliated” individuals such as myself, I think now that this was meant to only last about as long as its Facebook event page. That is, it expires the moment the event’s done, never to be seen again.

I think that the August 26 Scrap Pork rally, is the August 26 Scrap Pork rally. It is over. It was over the moment we realized that the people who were part of it had nothing planned really, for August 27.

And the truth is it’s okay, because August 26 will always be historic, will always be valuable, for having gotten people out on the streets again to take a stand against the state of governance in this country. August 26 might not have gathered a million people, but it gathered enough of us, volunteers with disparate views included, to show this government and the rest of nation that we cannot stand for this kind of corruption anymore.

But instead August 26 is being tainted with its own class biases. And no, this is not even just a matter of it being called a middle class rally, which it most certainly was. This is about the kind of discourse that has come out since then, because no it is not silence that we have gotten.

Instead it has become this seeming superiority complex, where one having done the August 26 rally, one might now speak of what is a good and proper gathering, and what isn’t. Instead it has been about careless queries about who people are connected to and how, and suspicions-on-overdrive about who’s affiliated with which politician and since when? Why on EDSA? That is too disruptive, it is being said. Why on a weekend? Is this legal?

At the heart of all this of course is the question of motives. And yet one wonders: what are we afraid of? There is no messing with the value of the August 26 Million People March, and at this point supporting actions against the pork barrel is really the only way to go.

Yes, there is the call to now refocus energies on the 100-day investigation. But that shouldn’t mean just waiting it out until its December 6 deadline. That’s a good three months at least of nothing but waiting. That’s a good three months that we are allowing government to live peacefully and quietly, thinking that we have compromised—or that the people ever will—because they can be silenced by the surrender of someone like Janet Napoles, and those televised budget hearings in the Senate.

That’s three months of going back to social media activism—which is really barely activism at all when you think about it. It’s like taking a million steps back, after proving on August 26 that there is value in moving from Facebook to Luneta, from social media to the streets. To go back to the confines of these virtual spaces fails to consider the value of sitting with others, hopefully strangers, and learning something new about the pork barrel there and then. To go back to doing Facebook and going all crazy on our statuses, fails to consider how many need a better conversation about the pork barrel, and how that conversation needs to happen right now.

Because if we don’t engage in that conversation, then it is government that will continue to peddle the notion that it has scrapped the pork barrel because it has scrapped PDAF. If we don’t have these conversations now, then we lose the opportunity to continue to engage the ones who know they have much to learn, and want information right now. If we don’t do this now, then we lose whatever it was that August 26 had going for it.

Which was what exactly? A sense of democracy. The idea that if we all agree on the abolition of the pork barrel, then that is enough to unite us. The belief that if we go from that issue to others then those are individual perspectives and causes that need not be taken on by the rest of those who are only on that line of scrapping pork. The conviction that all we need is to unite on scrapping all pork, because that is the only way we can actually prove our numbers, and even more so our anger as a people and demand change.

It seems strange to have to state it here. But when you think about it, the fact that the August 26 Million People March was handled the way it was, and was fueled by this kind if discourse, just might have pushed for the various rallies and activities from the less expected organizers (i.e., not organized groups). And in which case, shouldn’t it take pride in what it has achieved? In having pushed individuals to take the cause on?

I have gone as an individual to more meetings for scrap pork rallies than I have ever gone for anything else. I have had the best conversations about it with people who are planning these rallies. There are more to come, I’d like to tell PNoy, but also I’d like to tell the rest of you who went to Luneta on August 26. This is not about going to one gathering and thinking your task done; neither is this the time to go all cliquish or elitist about rallies. If there’s anything August 26 taught us all, it’s that we can co-exist in the same space, and I bet you, even on the same stage if we dare do a program.

Multifarious perspectives were accepted at the Million People March, as long as these commonly believed in scrapping all pork. Now all we need to prove is that we believe in its notions of democracy and unity.

Let a hundred rallies bloom. Let the conversations continue. It’s the only way.