Anti-pork rally in Malaybalay called off

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/26 August) – The rally against the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel that was supposed to be held here as part of the Million People March today at Manila’s Rizal Park was called off.

The possible venues of the rally — Plaza Rizal, Freedom Park, and the Capitol Grounds — were empty as of 10a.m.

Only baseball players from local schools could be seen at the Capitol grounds to practice for their sports fests.

At the city’s Freedom Park basketball players took the floor as no protesters arrived. Non-government organizations were informed that the rally would be held there.

Radyo Abante in Maramag town reported that Bukidnon Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr., who had earlier urged the people in the province to support mobilizations against the pork barrel, requested the station Friday to announce that the rally had been called off.

Mars Downy Ben Medina, Radyo Abante’s program director told MindaNews Zubiri called to announce the rally had been canceled after President Benigno Aquino III announced Friday the abolition of the PDAF.

Aquino vowed to create a “new mechanism to address the needs of your constituents and sectors, in a manner that is transparent, methodical, and rational, and not susceptible to abuse or corruption.”

Critics, however, said that the President merely wanted to change the name of PDAF and the manner of its disbursement.

Medina quoted Zubiri as saying in his recorded message Thursday that the government should abolish the PDAF as it is being abused.

Zubiri was a congressman from 1987 to 1998. He was succeeded by his two sons – Juan Miguel Zubiri from 1998 to 2007, and Jose Ma. Zubiri Jr. from 2007 up to the present.

Representatives from NGOs said that although they had apprehensions about an anti-pork barrel rally organized by politicians, they were ready to attend.

“We will be there as bystanders, to listen to issues,” Emma Molina of Barog Bukidnon said Sunday.

The group decided to hold a meeting instead in another venue today.

Others flooded the social networks with statements asking people to organize separate gatherings or to shun the rally announced by Zubiri. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)