Editorial: The cry of Luneta


By virtue of RA 3827, signed into law in 1931, the Philippines celebrates its National Heroes Day, or Araw ng mga Bayani, every fourth Monday of August.  The fourth Monday is celebrated as the approximate anniversary of the Cry of Pugad Lawin, when Andres Bonifacio and the Katipunan, fed up with the colonial government and forced to uncloak the nature of their organization, tore their cédulas personales to symbolize the start of the revolution by the Katipunan against the Spanish government.

It is ironic to note that tomorrow, too, march what seems to be a million Filipinos crying in defiance of an authority that had been abused, and a trust betrayed.

Last Friday, President Aquino called for the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund, touted as the pork barrel which has as of late gained widespread media coverage thanks to the P10 billion pork barrel misuse by JLN Corp., the revelation of the CoA’s findings from 2007-2009 as well as the subsequent exposition of prominent legislators who received more than their share of the congressional appropriation.

He went on to state some hard rules, beginning with the ban on approving consumable soft projects that have gained a poor reputation as avenues for corruption due to the difficulty of monitoring their implementation – fertilizers, medicine and health kits, dental services, instructional materials, among other items. He also forbade the appropriation for the implementation of unsustainable infrastructural projects and ‘maintenance work’ – dredging, destilting, regravelling and asphalt overlay – which are subject to bidding practices poorly regulated by implementing agencies and units. The President’s address also made references to the posting of project updates, bid notices, awards online to make the process more transparent, through the government’s national data portal and the website of the Department of Budget and Management.

Despite all these promised reforms, it seems that the invisible crowd refuses to budge. The internet-spawned furor over the misuse of the PDAF has not disquieted, with the flames blazing higher as the public remains cynical with the proposition of a People’s Fund to replace the PDAF. The new fund, installed with all the operational mechanisms mentioned above and more, is disputed by many sectors and have dismissed the posited improvements to the letter.

The public’s seemingly undue resistance to accept the so-touted improvements to the PDAF or pork barrel remains, and remains strong. And it is unsurprising. It would be difficult to restore faith where the cost has systemically been draining government coffers, which could – and rightly should – have been invested on public improvements and social services, and not unjustifiable self-enrichment.

By the letter, the PDAF has many checks and internal mechanisms that rule against its abuse, despite the loopholes present in said law. Auditors are bestowed great power but are by themselves controllable according to the highest bidding interest group, with the public forgetting to doff their inability to produce audits when audits are due – and the public does not know this. Crimes are let to accrue as these supposed checks, tools for justice, weapons of the righteous, remain untouched for fear of fatal reprimand. Cabalistic witch-behind-the-throne PR movers receive their due incentives from private lobby groups to engender public outrage in the press and on the pervasive currents of print and internet, years after the stakes of the people who are supposed to pay for unjustly enriching themselves at the public’s expense are already shielded by the fading of years, and the organized whitewashing and contingency mechanisms that are always a part of the political game.

Sadly, the integrity in our public institutions may continue to fade, even as citizens are led to anger blindly, full of conviction, like Katipuneros covered in their multi-colored hoods, unwitting pawns in the game that has its end set in the adjusted entrenchment of old powers and agendas continuing to duke it out. After all, someone had to tear the cédula.

But as National Heroes’ Day teaches us, the revolution brought on by the Filipino people’s nationalist icons and the sacrifices they have made to grant us the freedom we supposedly enjoy are not enough to keep this flailing ship afloat. There needs to be that consistent check, that steady rigging and vigorous manning of our own systems such that we can begin to rely on them once more, even after the abolition of the PDAF and the questioning of the People’s Fund. It is by consistent civil monitoring and dutiful execution of the law from the internal and external watchdogs, and a sustained cry for objective, performance-based, meritocratic governance that should inspire our officials to help create the country they promised their constituents.

Where Pugad Lawin’s was a cry for ouster, this is the cry of Luneta: transformation.

More than transparency and accountability – which should be staples of governance – transformation should call not just for the reform of PDAF and discretionary funds but also a reform, a wake-up call in the minds of Filipinos who should be awake as they watch the state of public affairs, keen and aware not just amidst the din of public scandal but also in times of silence.

The Filipino people are duty-bound by the legacy of our ancestors to be critical and issue-oriented, participatory in the governance of the nation we breathe in, for which blood was spilt, wars fought, lives lost. And it comes not just from the one million Filipinos that are rumored to march tomorrow, but is demanded too by the other 94 million Filipinos who cannot make it to the massive white assembly flooding Rizal’s burial site.

For this cry is one that should not fade after the noise barrages and the expected garbage to be strewn by unwitting activists, but one that should remain ever echoing in the consciousness of each citizen hungering for a better Philippines.


Last week, De La Salle Philippines’ President, Br. JJ Jimenez FSC, urged a momentuous call for Lasallians to join the massive “picnic” at Luneta. The understandable hesitation from students to participate in the call despite make-up classes on the said day should lead Lasallians to think: Do I know what I am doing? Do I understand the issue enough such that I carry the passion in crying for transparency and accountability? Is it worth cutting classes for this?

Perhaps it is time to remember that student activities and thinking should be geared towards an unparalleled sensitivity towards concerns of national relevance, which shape not just Lasallians but Filipinos. It is a priority demanded of those who are influential enough to shape a suffering society towards the better, as individuals if not as an institution.

This awareness is difficult to attain, an evolved state beyond inward-looking priorities that more or less affect us all without having a sustained purpose or mission. Lasallians – students, faculty, staff, employees, contractual workers – who wish to join the cry for transparency and accountability in government should equally cry for the same in the institutions and organizations they are part of, by merit of their being issue-oriented critical thinkers. Transparency and accountability are not buzzwords used to demean government when they fail to meet standards or squander public interest.

These radical virtues, unfortunately, apply to all, even to those who cry for them.

The LaSallian

By The LaSallian

One reply on “Editorial: The cry of Luneta”

Very well written and the “check” mechanisms supporting the PDAF are well discussed. A very enlightening and informed piece. Kudos to the writer.

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