Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Urban Poor and the Pork Barrel Scandal

Urban Poor Associates
25-A Mabuhay Street, Brgy. Central, Q.C.          Telefax: 4264118          Tel.: 4264119 / 4267615
Ref:  Princess Asuncion-Esponilla      Mobile phone: 0908 1967450

13 November 2013. Urban poor groups composed of Urban Poor Alliance, Urban Poor Associates, Community Organizers Multiversity, and other different people’s organizations presented urban poor peoples’ views on the pork barrel scandal and related matters November 13 at the Ateneo De Manila.

Professor Prospero “Popoy” De Vera, University of the Philippines Vice-President for Public Affairs and  Senator Benigno “Bam” Aquino spoke to the group.

Jeorgie Tenolete, President of Kabalikat sa Kaunlaran in Baseco, Tondo said the poor were shocked by the amount of money revealed.

Tenolete spoke for all urban poor when he said: “If that money were spent for the good of the poor majority, nobody would be begging in the streets, nobody would be evicted because housing is inadequate, nobody would be out of work, no children would be out of school, nobody would die because he/she had no money for medicines and nobody would be hungry. Now that we know there is money, they cannot tell us anymore that there is no money for basic needs. We will do our best to make sure that the poor will never be an ingredient in a scam like this—we will organize ourselves to go against the corrupt.”

The forum called for extending Philhealth benefits to every poor family; by making sure each student in elementary school had free uniforms, text books, meals and transport; provide funds to improve light, water and drainage in the poor communities; creating jobs; and flooding poor neighborhoods with rice, fish and vegetable at affordable cost.

The urban poor also pledged action by organizing signature campaigns and rallies for honest government and in order to jail pork barrel villains within one year; organizing voters against persons known to be corrupt; putting a committee of urban poor leaders and NGOs into the six agencies that received the money that would have gone to the pork barrel in 2014 to monitor the utilization of the funds; work with Bottom-Up Budgeting, and make citizens’ arrests of corrupt officials.

Alice Murphy, UPA Field Director said, “this forum is a venue for poor people to get together, share their sentiments, suggest alternatives and at the same time be enlightened on the issue of the  pork barrel scam. We believe that by free discussions we can learn and with understanding of the issues we can come to commitments that will improve the condition of the poor through better public service.”

She said: “We will start by advocating PhilHealth for our poor people. Many of our leaders have PhilHealth but when the time came that they try to use the card and present it in the hospital, they find out that it was not funded. Many poor people die because they don’t have access to hospital care.”

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