Protesters feast on the ‘lechon’ to dramatize pork barrel corruption

The juicy, sumptuous ‘lechon’ has become symbolic of pork barrel corruption in the Philippines. Photo by Eric Lachica

The juicy, sumptuous ‘lechon’ has become symbolic of pork barrel corruption in the Philippines.
Photo by Eric Lachica

By Maricar CP Hampton

Dozens of marchers paraded a roast pig – or ‘lechon’ — in front of the Philippine Embassy. As a sign of protest, they partook of the crisp skin, dipped it in vinegar while denouncing the alleged pork barrel thievery of Philippine politicians.

“Bilang simbolo na babalatan po natin ang mga conspirators ng pork barrel at mga plunderers. Isasawsaw natin sila sa suka hanggang sila ay masuspinde o mag-resign at mabigyan ng katarungan ang lahat ng mga mamamayang Pilipino,” the organizers said.

The famous Philippine delicacy was at the center of a peaceful protest on September 20 calling for the abolition of all forms of pork barrel allocations. They carried placards that read “Tama na, sobra na” and “Pork barrel ibasura na.”

“We demand the prosecution of corrupt politicians who receive kickbacks and their cohorts,” said Eric Lachica of the U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG).

The Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC) urged the Philippine government to investigate the “extent and damage” of the alleged “conspiracy to plunder our economy.”

“The pork barrel system is an institutionalized plunder of people’s money and must end now,” the MHC said in a statement. “We call for the unconditional abolition not only of the Congressional pork barrel but also the Presidential pork barrel. Billions of pork barrel allocations have been stolen and unjustly enriched senators, congressmen, other government officials and their cohorts in the private sector in a conspiracy like the Napoles Scheme.”

Ted Laguatan, USP4GG spokesman, said President Benigno Aquino III should exercise strong moral leadership by immediately abolishing the graft-ridden pork barrel system.

“President Aquino should have these unconscionable thieves disguised as senators, congressmen, and appointed officials and their accessories – immediately arrested and prosecuted,” he said.

Similar protest rallies were held across the country including New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Embassy said it will convey the marchers’ sentiments to concerned authorities in Manila.

“We would like to assure our kababayans that the national government headed by President Benigno S. Aquino III remains steadfastly committed to his ‘daang matuwid’ roadmap and has taken steps to ensure that the delivery of services to the public is undertaken in a more transparent and accountable manner,” said Ambassador Jose Cuisia.

He said Aquino is aware of people’s sentiments.

“He has suspended the release of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and has promised to take concrete steps to effectively address public concerns over the pork barrel system,” said Cuisia.

On September 16, the Department of Justice filed plunder and other graft charges against Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the P10-billion pork barrel scam, and 37 others, including some prominent lawmakers led by Senator Juan Ponce Enrile.
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