AdDU spearheads anti-PDAF forum

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Friday, September 13, 2013

MEMBERS of progressive and government sectors Thursday joined the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) in a forum on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) entitled "Understanding the Pork: Forum on PDAF Issues".

AdDU president Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ, opened the program by quoting Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, saying how the present situation can be similarly referred to as, "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

Tabora went on to show the contrast between events happening in the Philippines today, such as how the country was so close to achieving an agreement to stop hostilities between Filipinos in Mindanao, and then went on to slam "those who claim to represent a religion of peace take human shields," apparently referring to the ongoing Zamboanga crisis.


Returning to the context of PDAF, Tabora said that in the worst of times, the misuse of pork has been so grave that "it brought thousands of protesters" to the streets, and in the best times the pork barrel had been used to, "aid the poorest of the poor."

Bayan Muna Rep. Karlos Zarate was also a speaker at the forum, and recalled when the Makabayan bloc filed House bill 1535 for the abolition of the pork barrel system.

Zarate said they were ridiculed by numerous people, calling their efforts an "exercise in futility" and a "waste of time."

"It's PDAF that allows patronizing politics," Zarate said, adding that the pork barrel is a "form of institutionalized patronization."

Lawyer Rodolfo Elman, assistant deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao echoed Zarate's sentiments, saying, "after decades there is now solid proof of the evils of the PDAF system." Elman also said that, "justice must be served and the public will have no less."

Lawyer Fatima Irene Adin, spokesperson of Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change, also explained that although there was mass action in marching against PDAF last August, she stressed the need for continuous action, saying that the problem remains.

Adin hopes that the “patronage system” of PDAF should be abolished, and the funds be re-channeled to basic services such as housing and education, “para mas mararamdaman ang dapat para sa atin.”

She also called for the prosecution of all those involved in the pork barrel scam.

Two members of the AdDU faculty, Hadji Balajadia of the Psychology Department, and Prof. Ramon Beleno of the Political Science and History Department were present in the forum. Beleno echoed the thoughts of Adin, saying that those involved should be held accountable. Beleno also quoted late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, saying, “the duty of the youth is to challenge corruption.”

More protest actions against PDAF are still to come, with the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Mindanao Region holding a march from Freedom Park to Rizal Park Friday and a multi-sectoral march from Magsaysay Park to Rizal Park on Sept. 21.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 13, 2013.

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