I helped out with the August 26 Million People March, with the September 11 EDSA TAYO, with Pork Day the 13th and Rock and Rage Against Pork on September 13. It was all a matter of knowing that extra hands would be useful, and while for the August 26 MPM it was clear that one person who was part of the meetings to organize the event was going on a totally different tangent, the rest of us were united in the call to Scrap ALL Pork. A call that has not changed across the other rallies I’ve helped out in; a call that has been carried by other rallies I wasn’t part of (the September 19 No Remittance Day and the September 21 rally in Luneta) all the way to the October 4 MPM@Ayala.
Of course the October 4 rally was informed as well by the revelation that is the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), a fund from government savings that was given to senators for projects that they were told to submit by Malacañang. This is billions of pesos that most senators presumed was just additional pork barrel.
It sure looks and sounds and smells like pork. Because ultimately the DAP, as with the PDAF, as with PNoy’s unprogrammed and discretionary funds, was not disbursed with transparency and accountability. And while this government will insist that these are all legal, what they refuse to acknowledge is the fact that what is lawful does not necessarily mean transparent.
And transparency and accountability is what matuwid na daan promises. That is what PNoy and Malacañang are being called out on.
Called out on. Not being ousted for, or impeached, or anything in between. PNoy is being called out for failing to fulfill his promise, given what we now know about the national budget, about the disbursement of funds, and the lack of clear basis for these disbursements. He is being given a chance to prove himself.
Ah, but PNoy’s fans are on Facebook overdrive, if only to discredit the united call to scrap ALL pork, and the demand that government account for all these funds. It would be funny, were I not so offended, that it is MPM@Ayala that’s being questioned. Having worked with all those groups that now make up the Scrap Pork Network, separately in the first three rallies, I could not but be happy that these people were rising above their differences, united as they are by one concerted call.
Of course, that could only be scarier for most every PNoy ally, formal or informal, on social media or in real life, ergo, welcome the faulty logic, the inciting of fear, the gross generalizations against the Scrap Pork Network. All these, courtesy of our Facebook superstars!
Such as Cynthia Patag, who on October 1, three days before MPM@Ayala posted: “Pro-Marcos/pro-GMA hyenas are PIGGYBACKING on Million People March 2 @ Ayala <…> after their Sept. 11 debacle. Patriotism isn’t their primary motivation – not by a long shot. THEIR MAIN AGENDA: OUST PNOY, IBALIK SA PODER ANG MGA AMO NILANG ISINUKA NA NG BAYAN. NO TO OPPORTUNISTIC SABOTEURS!” Kaming tunay na nagmamahal sa Inangbayan, have come too far in our quest to purge the Philippine government of systemic corruption! Scrap pork, transparency, prosecution of traitors/thieves, meaningful reform – was nothing but a quixotic fool’s dream 3 weeks ago. But then a miracle happened. WE CANNOT, MUST NOT, STOP OUR VIGILANCE.”
On October 3, a day before MPM@Ayala, Patag reposted this status along with this update: “Nadagdagan pa ng OUST PNOY, BINAY FOR PRESIDENT…” <all caps all hers>
Using all caps has never looked so … scary before. Alongside the exclamation points and invoking love for inang bayan, and then talking about a miracle! It almost sounds like an ultra-conservative raising her fists against the sinful populace. But no, it’s just a former celebrity, turning all socially conscious and relevant on us, highlighting the miracle of PNoy pushing for “meaninful reform,”and sounding a lot like tabloid headlines. Or worse than the tabloid. Because here, Patag does not name credible sources for her information, and neither does she give credit to the people who have demanded that PNoy listen.
There is also this: every time people like Patag throw around the idea of some politico taking over a rally, what they actually reveal is how little they think of the Scrap Pork Network organizers. I’ve met these people, and none of them are stupid, or gullible, or naïve. Collectively, and maybe precisely because of ideological diversity, this group holds more intelligence and criticality than many-an-organized-group.
On October 6, Patag shares MPM organizer Peachy Bretaña’s status about being called various colors when she in fact remains an unaffiliated individual. Patag then says: “Oh, dear Peachy. When the spotlight’s on you, it comes with a heavy price to pay – I empathize. Like Jim P. said, “Small minds are always threatened by a big mind and heart.” Easier said than done, but this, too, shall pass. Big, warm hug.”
Oh dear Cynthia Patag, actually it is people like you who are putting Peachy through this, and none of this will pass if it were up to you. You are putting Peachy – and every other organizer like her – through the difficulty of facing false accusations and fear mongering.
The truth is that celebrities like Patag are not on the side of Peachy, or the Scrap Pork Network, which was built from the first MPM in Luneta, and which also includes the EDSA Tayo and Pork Day the 13th organizers. They invoke Peachy’s name, the better to pretend that they are one with the fight against pork. But they do not think much of the rest of the Scrap Pork Network organizers.
And yet it is within this group, and with its growing supporters, that discussions are being properly had, and leveling up the discourse is the goal. The ones who are on the side of the Scrap Pork Network are not screaming in all caps about how Patag and her kind are discrediting the individuals and actions of the group, and that is because many of us are like Peachy, individuals all, working together to demand transparency and accountability, from our politicians yes, but also and most importantly from PNoy.
On Patag’s wall someone said that what we need is a leader. Patag responded: “Andyan si PNoy. Believe.”
Anyone who thinks PNoy’s leadership remains unquestioned despite the fact of unprogrammed funds and PDAF and DAP allocations, all of which his government has yet to account for, is not on the side of the Scrap Pork Network. And all these Facebook statuses and all caps, all these discussions being had with the pretense of being one with the fight against pork, is really just adding to the misinformation and confusion. Patag pretends she is on the side of truth and accountability. But no one can be on that side, and not call out PNoy and the palace at the same time.
Then again, Cynthia Patag’s someone whose Facebook page says she’s in Iloilo, and yet she talks about the MPM@Ayala as if she’s actually there!
Now THAT has the makings of a miracle.
this piece was published in Opinion Section of The Manila Times on October 10 2013.