The Marianas chapter of the U.S. Pinoys for Good Government held a protest rally on Saturday at the Filcom Pavilion in Susupe against the ongoing pork barrel scam in the Philippines, waving placards that read “Kayod kami ng kayod, nakaw kayo ng nakaw” (We work hard, you steal), ” “Zero tolerance for corruption,” and “Congress: Biggest Criminal Syndicate?”
During Saturday’s rally on Saipan, the local chapter of the USP4GG discussed updates on the plunder case filed against alleged scam conduit Janet Lim Napoles and Philippine senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, and Jinggoy Estrada.
“We all agreed that we should be vigilant and have one voice to scrap the pork barrel and to ensure that the thieves of the PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund] be prosecuted. …These thieves have no conscience at all, stealing billions of pesos yet the poor of the Philippines are eating the ‘pagpag’ (leftovers) and cannot afford to buy medicines for their illness,” said Dr. Celia Lamkin, USP4GG Marianas Chapter chairwoman.
She said the huge amount of money allegedly stolen by Napoles and her cohorts could have been used to build low-cost housing units for the poor, build more classrooms in public schools, and improve healthcare services.
Lamkin said the USP4GG Marianas Chapter is urging Philippine President Benigno C. Aquino III to exercise his strong moral leadership to “scrap the PDAF, stop the plunder, and restore the dignity to Congress and Senate.”
People who attended the rally also called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the “thieves” involved in the pork barrel scam.
Lamkin told the assembled crowd that even though they are not living in the Philippines, they too have as much stake in the crisis currently embroiling their home country.
“Overseas Filipinos comprising contract workers, green card or permanent residents, and U.S. citizens (Filipino-Americans) who make up the global Filipinos in diaspora in all parts of the world profoundly contribute to the economy of the Philippines through our remittances. And these thieves are stealing our money. We have the right to ask for accountability and transparency of all the monies we have contributed to the Philippine government revenues.”
According to Philippine news reports, Napoles allegedly created bogus non-government organizations that was supposed to benefit farmers and agricultural workers. Government officials, including some prominent senators and congressmen, would regularly channel their so-called pork barrel funds to these straw organizations for supposed projects beneficial to the public.
However, no such projects actually exist, as Napoles would allegedly funnel back around 70 percent of the funds to the officials and keep 30 percent, a part of which she spreads to other minor agency officials who facilitate the release of funds.