Group expects 5K-8K to stand against ‘pork’

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

THE Anti-Pork Coalition in Cebu yesterday said they expect some 5,000 to 8,000 people to attend a signature campaign on Saturday against any form of lump sum appropriation in the government's budget.

The coalition aims to gather thousands of protesters at the Plaza Independencia on Aug. 23 to support the People's Initiative (PI).

Businessman Marc Canton, one of the coalition convenors, said that on the same day, a National People's Congress will be held at the Mariners' Court.


The Congress aims to approve a draft bill against the pork barrel.

Speaking before the 888 News Forum at Marco Polo Plaza, Canton said that the Pork Barrel Abolition Bill was drafted by the various committees organized by the different groups under the umbrella organization, Anti-Pork Coalition.

Canton said that after several meetings and discussions, the draft People's bill was reduced to only nine pages, which will be presented on Saturday’s congress.

Last Monday, Cebu Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano said that holding a referendum on the PI is a “tough job” for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) citing logistical problem and the limited time.

But Canton and Stella Palomo, another convenor, said that the coalition will gather the signatures of at least 15 percent of registered voters in every district of the country, so that Comelec will be forced to call for a referendum ratifying the so-called people's law abolishing the pork barrel system.

Canton said that there are 234 legislative districts in the country and they want to fast-track the signature campaign so that Comelec can call for a referendum within the next 90 days.

Professor Phoebe Zoe Sanchez said that the Comelec has no authority to stop a referendum because it's only job is to verify whether the signatures are genuine or not.

She said that it’s the people’s right under the 1987 Constitution that the Comelec should not ignore.

Sister Virgie Ligaray of the Religious of the Virgin Mary said that the religious sector is supporting the PI to lessen, if not eradicate, anomaly in the use of government funds.

"There are delegates from all over the country who will participate in the People's Congress. We have to work hard between now and November to do our campaign and signature collection", Canton said.

He said they know from the start that their fight against pork barrel is not an easy one.

"This is like David versus Goliath. Congress is our enemy. But because we have started this, we have to finish it," Canton said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 21, 2014.

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