The Sound of Fury

(Updated) A lady in red, Gang Badoy narrates, showed up while she and her friends were having a meal, and a “highly charged discussion”. The lady in red was Peachy Rallonza-Bretaña. It was Miss Rallonza-Bretaña, who was the first person to repost, and call for action regarding the PDAF scam. Here is Gang’s account:

Last night I was having a highly charged discussion during a meal with friends when a lady in red shows up. We apparently have a common friend. Her name is Peachy Rallonza-Bretaña. According to her, she was the one who FIRST re-posted the call of Ito Rapadas. (Ito was the lead singer of a band called Neo-Colors from the early 90s) BUT- it was Peachy who posted “the call to action” and she was the one who put the time and place – and it was this that was spread and tossed around Facebook via tags and links. In response, Bernardo Bernardo and Monet Silvestre (a stage actor and a musician respectively) who were also the first ones to repost this suggestion put up a Facebook page with a California-based Phil-Am TV show called “Power ng Pinoy.” Peachy says she was tagged as a “host” on the event page, made administrator, and identified as being the spearhead of this August 26 protest. I asked her, “Well, are YOU the organizer? There have been questions, you see. Is there a program? A permit? What can we expect? Who will be beside me if I go?”

She looked a little beat, and a lot overwhelmed so I stopped to let her speak.

I learned that Peachy has no affiliation with any political group or movement. She is not sinister—in fact, she is quite reserved. I didn’t see an agenda-filled demagogue. All I saw was a taxpayer who is very angry at what is happening. She is angry and is just inviting people to gather, essentially asking them if they are angry, too. “Luneta is a public space,” she says, “This is just an invitation to go on August 26, National Heroes Day, to go to Luneta, and stake their claim on a little piece of our national historic park.”

Hundreds of thousands went to Luneta today, and elsewhere. It didn’t matter if the number, “a million “, didn’t happen. Of course there were the militants, in a minority, said those who joined the Million People March. Perhaps these militants believed that this was a step towards an orgy of anger.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer noted some of those militants who held a protest in Cavite province, and they skipped Revilla’s mansion. Philippine Daily Inquirer writer Maricar Cinco wrote that Andriane Ng, a Bayan Southern Tagalog spokesperson admitted that “local militant groups in Cavite had allied with the Revillas during the May midterm elections. Senator Revilla had also endorsed the senatorial bid of former Bayan Rep. Teddy Casiño in one of his political sorties.”

@NoOtherNicky was quick to reply:

A month ago, on July 15, 2013, Rappler’s Ayee Macaraig wrote that Senator Ramon Revilla was linked to the pork barrel scam.

ABS-CBN News quotes palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, reacting to the Million People March. He said:

“The Palace shares the outrage that the protesters feel against the misuse of public funds.

“Whether a million po ‘yan or 60,000 pa lang, the message is clear: We are on the same side. We are on the same side. Laban ho tayo sa corruption.”

Which is true. After all, aside from the whistleblowers, the Administration had been quietly working in their own investigation. Quite recently, the Commission on Audit revealed their very telling findings.

As Winnie Monsod puts it, the PDAF scam is just the tip of the iceberg. What makes any of us think this deep-seated conspiracy is just part of a complex, intricate web of corruption?

What can we gleam from the million people march?

Darwin Bandoy points out in a tweet, it is an event to “utter frustration for a dysfunctional check and balance in government“:

Jon Limjap tweeted:

Former Pangasinan Representative Mark Cojungco says the message of today’s rally is clear:

In a nutshell, the Million People March was a moment for The People to vent their anger, and their frustration. That itself was clear. People had to go past anger to even start to comprehend the situation, much less what’s next.

So that’s the general scope. That’s where People’s minds are. A general sense of disgust, frustration, and hurt that manifest itself on anger. That aside, the important questions are starting to come out. It is time to discuss and debate the issue. It is time to understand the details of how the People’s money is currently being spent, and how the people’s money can be spent, moving forward. Now that people have settled down, and a calm discussion of how things work, in practicality can take place. The important debate that we as a nation now must take is next.

What happens when we truly scrap pork? Who benefits the most? As Manuel Buencamino asked, “The only question worth asking is, did the intended beneficiaries get what they were supposed to get?”

Nik de Ynchausti (@iwriteasiwrite) says “Removing pork and cutting representatives off from a formal process to request for local projects is diametrically opposed to the functions of a representative government. Additionally, by imbuing Executive branch with total discretion over directing developmental funds and projects, it creates informal processes of bartering for funding attention. Better to codify and make transparent. To put a simple answer to question, leaving development and investment decisions purely with Executive will create check imbalance.”

Over at ANC, Pinky Web were talking to two analysts. University of the Philippines Professor Popoy de Vera says, “We should have a full-blown public debate on how much discretion should we give our gov’t officials in the use of public funds. Should we create system where nobody has discretion, and unnecessarily limit the hands of the President, and members of Congress to respond very specific needs? Because if you abolish the President’s social fund, for example, and disaster comes in, where will the President get the money for disasters? Do you give zero, or do you give it some flexibility? Do you determine where discretion would be? I think that’s where the debate should go. You can’t keep saying, abolish all PDAF. It is a simplistic solution that does not engage the people in the whole debate where public money should go.”

So what could be a solution the question of PDAF?

In a previous post, I quoted this Twitter thread between Oliver Reyes and Nik de Ynchausti:

For Ren Aquila, thinks we can take a page from the Jessie Robredo:

It is possible that a key refinement to the Philippine government’s budget reform is to institutionalize the local development council system as the main focus of identifying projects, rather than relying on individual legislators. In its present form, we give legislators too much power. In this paradigm, this power must be shared with civil society on the ground. And this was something Mayor Robredo understood in reinventing the Naga City development council as a “People’s Council.”

This is just one of the things Robredo did in his time, and for which he was conferred the award. Many of these reforms are predicated on an emphasis on the local as its source, and the level to which most citizens connect with the idea of the nation. This is of course where the principle of subsidiarity comes in. I will not talk about this for now, but suffice to say that this has to do with the primacy of the local and how the bigger sphere must support it rather than subsume it, for the sake of the common good.

Another point of view comes from Doy Santos wrote, “Unless PDAF is replaced with something more suited to a modern democracy, it will be reincarnated in some other shape or form even if the current set of PDAF abusers are put behind bars. The real answer in my view is for the state to provide campaign finance to accredited political parties.”

Senator Bam Aquino proposes a People’s Fund. It isn’t a tax, but he says, “a mechanism for five percent (5%) of an individual’s income tax to be allocated to either of the following: (a) an accredited charity or civil society organization; (b) a national or local priority government project; or (c) a legitimate political party.”

This early on, it is clear that scrapping PDAF or pork or any sort of discretionary fund is not an option. Can not be. Not only is it a non-starter, it is impractical in running the country.

Yes, we can all agree that pork has been used as political leverage, especially during Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s time, and that while not to that extent, continued in President Aquino’s time. Projects are dangled. Yet, as distasteful as that sounds, part of the Executive-Legislative process. Can it be improved so not only do we maintain the equal power of both branches of government, but we get a way to better handle the people’s monies?

The people’s indignation is strong, rightfully as Jon Limjap puts it. Personally, I am shocked by the level of indignation since the whole point of electing Aquino as president was precisely to do this. Where have people been? Locked in a cave in the last three, much less the last decade That said, glad we’re all aligned on the same cause. We have a nation to fix.

What are the things you can do? How can we gain understanding of the situation? Manolo Quezon tweeted a number of things:

This early on, it is clear that there is no one solution to PDAF and the “problem” of pork. As Professor Popoy de Vera points out, to call for its outright abolition is simplistic. And people are realizing it. Without taking the necessary next steps, I think the Sound of Fury of the Million People March will signify nothing. That of course, is up to We the People.

Update:
Sparks and I had a discussion on Twitter. She reacted to this post and the previous one. Am sure she wasn’t the only one asking it. Here is a storify of that discussion.

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.

  • andrew lim

    Cocoy,

    Hop over to Raissa’s blog. Johnny Lin posted his 10 observations on today’s rally.
    They indicate a smart crowd who thinks and despite their rage, will not destroy themselves and country. Also the booing of Corona indicates the people who went to Luneta are not easy to fool.

    It was a very positive event. Defend it from the extreme left and right!

    • cocoy

      Copy. Will do! Thank you! 🙂