Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
August 26, 2013
SAN FRANCISCO – Filipino World War II veterans, their widows and supporters held a protest in front of the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco Friday afternoon, telling President Benigno Aquino III that they will not hesitate to fight for their motherland, even in their old age, especially when its integrity is at stake.
They said President Aquino should follow through with his statement that he will abolish the pork barrel system, which reportedly has become a source of big kickbacks for a number of corrupt officials in the Philippines.
“The taxpayers’ money should be used for the good of the people, especially the poor. Those who are corrupt have no business getting it,” said Aquilino Delen, a veteran.
The protesters, under the leadership of the group, U.S. Against PDAF Coalition-San Francisco, sent a letter to President Aquino through the Philippine Consulate, citing their demands. Besides the abolition of the pork barrel, they also want the transfer of all funds to a government budget for basic services for the people, especially for the poor in the Philippines, many of them fellow veterans.
They also want lawmakers found guilty of corruption to be held accountable, and for fugitive businesswoman, Janet Napoles, the alleged brains in the $226 million pork barrel scam to pay for her alleged sins to the people. “We are calling for the sequestration of all properties of corrupt officials and grafters like Napoles,” stated Ago Pedalizo, organizer for the U.S. Against PDAF Coalition-SF.
They said true change should come from President Aquino himself. They want his presidential pork barrel to also be removed, worth more than $10 billion, earmarked for the 2014 national budget.
But Philippine Budget Secretary Florencio Abad defended the presidential pork barrel, saying this needs to stay so Malacanang can act fast during emergency situations, like calamities. The Philippine Consulate in San Francisco said it will make sure the letter from the protesters reaches the Office of the President.
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