Editorial: Independence Day protest

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Monday, June 2, 2014

A GROUP calling itself the 6.12.14 Protest Coalition is mounting a rally on Independence Day against corruption and the pork barrel system. In a May 29 press conference, the coalition, said to be composed of over 20 organizations, said it considers June 12 as the “day of reckoning.”

It has issued an ultimatum to President Noynoy Aquino “to take action” (presumably to “jail all” those involved in the pork barrel scam, which is the group’s slogan) before Aug. 26 this year, or it will resort to “drastic measures,” which include strikes, tax revolts and civil disobedience.

Big words there. But two things need to be considered first.


One, objectivity.

This includes ensuring that the target of their ire really pocketed their pork barrel allocations, which should be the first thing to do considering all the pork barrel scam lists that have come out. This will also ensure that the coalition’s mantra “jail all” would be fair.

The role of the different branches of government should also be clarified. In a democratic setup, the power of the president is limited to prosecuting the scam participants through the Department of Justice; the jailing and the declaration of guilt are functions of the courts.

Two, people’s support.

In every protest action, the question asked of organizers is always, can they walk the talk? The first test of that for the 6.12.14 Protest Coalition is whether it can get the warm bodies that could make the Aquino administration look its way come Independence Day.

The problem with the protest against the pork barrel system is its fractious nature. That was seen after the initial successful protest on Aug. 26 last year, the Million People March.

While the number of protesters that showed up at the Luneta didn’t actually reach a million, that rally was big. After that, their leaders quarreled as to the focus of the protest and how it would be carried out. Participation in subsequent rallies waned.

Which is unfortunate because, considering the circumstance, now is the people’s biggest chance in decades to succeed not necessarily in eradicating corruption in the government bureaucracy but at least in eliminating the pork barrel system altogether.

But unity can’t be had for various reasons, including the personal, political and ideological differences of protest leaders and participants.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 03, 2014.


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