By Jose Paulo Gaborni
June 12, 2014 was a day of angst by people yearning for freedom against corrupt bureaucrats and against a system that protects them.
Most of these protesters marched from the US Embassy up to Liwasang Bonifacio, and eventually to Mendiola, and some raised posters featuring pictures of senators Enrile, Revilla, Estrada, as well as secretaries Abad and Alcala.
With their latest chants like “Noynoy Aquino, Pork Barrel King!” and “Pork Barrel tanggalin, Noynoy patalsikin!”, protesters from different organizations also called for Aquino’s ouster, citing his negligence in running state affairs, coddling corrupt bureaucrats with the latest Pork Barrel scam, and in failing to implement agrarian reform in Hacienda Luisita and other estates owned by the ruling classes.
The protest march includes an effigy of a pig reminiscent of the golden calf, paraded to the amusement of onlookers. It was first shown in last year’s anti-pork demonstration in Makati’s Ayala triangle.
Other than BAYAN, groups like Victims Against Crime and Corruption, as well as individuals like Bishop Oscar Cruz, NBN-ZTE Whistleblower Jun Lozada, Mae “Juana Change” Paner, and Blogger Tonyo Cruz expressed disgust against the present administration and the slow handling of justice against Napoles and corrupt bureaucrats.
Scarborough Shoal, EDCA, and costumed protest at US Embassy
Other than Pork Barrel, issues like the Scarborough Shoal and West Philippine sea were being discussed, stressing Philippine sovereignty over the contested rocks, shoals, and isles west of Palawan, as former Congressman Teddy Casiño said that BAYAN rejects “incursions of China in our Exclusive Economic Zone,” but also opposes a new agreement that will allow US troops to establish facilities inside Philippine military bases.
“All these are threats to our independence and sovereignty and we are here to defend them,” he said.
And prior to the march towards Liwasan, a group of protesters, dressed as Katipuneros, led the way in marching with the rest after a near-scuffle with the cops at the US Embassy, with the latter confiscating some of the props like wooden guns and bolos.
The protest near the US Embassy was about the agreements that protesters described as unequal and one sided, such as the Visiting Forces Agreement, Mutual Logistics Support Agreement, and the latest Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
People may misunderstand, if not altogether disregard the protests regardless of the topics discussed. Oftentimes, there are those trying to describe those protesters subjectively as ‘pro-Chinese’.
After the country celebrated its day of freedom against colonizers, the following questions are begging to be asked: What is independence if it means relying on a bigger country, rather than standing up on your own?
What is freedom if it means acting like a mendicant, aside from having a system that is indeed corrupt, with officials siphoning off money from the people?
Save for those who actually care about national concerns, do the people really care about national consciousness save for Pacquiao’s boxing rematches and the occasional beauty contests? Vietnam had similar problems with China but it resisted its northern neighbor on its own.
The struggle continues, as age-old problems continue to persist. Protests will still continue, as peasants still have no land, workers keep asking for their bread, and as people wish an end to all corruption, and for as long as this nation is still yearning for a just and lasting peace.
PNoy turns Independence Day celebration into nostalgia show
President Benigno Aquino III used the Independence Day celebration in Naga City to lash out against critics and those who accused him of politicizing the prosecution process.
The choice to hold the national event in Naga City, Camarines Sur was seen by many as the President’s way of avoiding the torrent of protests in Manila. It should be noted that Naga City mayor John Bongat is a Liberal Party colleague, as well as most of the city councilors.
The reason that Naga City was selected as this year’s venue, supposedly, was as a tribute to the fifteen Bicolano martyrs who became victims of the atrocities of Spanish forces during the revolutionary movement.
Whether that is the real reason or not, or whether it was done for more explicit reasons, let the public judge for themselves.
He told the guests that due process is being followed in the prosecution of the pork barrel scam.
“Napapanahon naman pong balikan ang mga pangyayaring ito, lalo pa ngayong tinatahak na natin ang landas ng reporma at tunay na hustisya. Alam naman po natin ang isa sa mga pinakamainit na isyu ngayon: May ilang prominenteng personalidad nang sinampahan ng kaso ng Ombudsman ukol sa isyu ng pagkamkam ng pork barrel. Ang kanilang sinasabi: pinupulitika lamang raw sila. Ipaalala lang po natin: panahon ng eleksiyon noong 2013 nang unang lumutang ang balita tungkol sa illegal detention kay Benhur Luy, pati na ang tungkol sa mga pekeng NGO at pambubulsa sa pondo ng bayan,” he said.
“Ang ibinilin ko po kay Secretary Leila De Lima, huwag gagawa ng akusasyon hangga’t walang karampatang patunay. Sinunod natin ang tamang proseso: nagsagawa ng imbestigasyon, nangalap ng mga ebidensiya, at ngayon ay nagsampa ng kaso. Puwede naman itong ginawa noon nang mabilisan at walang matibay na basehan upang masira ang pangalan ng mga kandidatong dawit sa kontrobersiya, pero idinaan natin sa tamang sistema ang pagpapalabas ng katotohanan. Pagkatapos tayo pa ngayon ang sinasabihan na namumulitika? Kayo na hong bahalang magpasya kung sino ang papanigan niyo sa usaping ito,” the President added.
The other part of his speech consisted less of topics relevant to independence and more about how his family’s rights were violated.
He segued into how the rights of his father, Senator Ninoy Aquino, were violated during the martial law regime.
“Nilitis lang ang aking ama nang ipasailalim na ni Ginoong Marcos ang bansa sa Martial Law. Iniharap sa court martial ang aking ama, kung saan ang militar ang lilitis sa isang sibilyan. Sa hukumang binubuo ng mga mahistrado, abugado at mga testigong itinalaga ng mismong nagsampa ng kaso na si Ginoong Marcos, pilit na binaluktot ng diktadurya ang katarungan. Sa madaling salita po, si Ginoong Marcos ang nag-akusa, siya rin ang naglitis, at siya pa rin ang may kapangyarihang magdesisyon sa apela. Kitang-kita po dito kung paanong binaluktot ng diktador ang sistema ng hustisya upang makuha ang gusto niya,” he said.
He pointed out that the experiences of his family has taught him that rule of law should always be observed in the prosecution of cases.
“Ang karanasan nga po ng aming pamilya ang nagturo sa akin ng kahalagahan ng pakikipaglaban para sa pagkakapantay-pantay upang mawakasan ang siklo ng kawalang katarungan,” he added.