August 26, 2013
The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) challenged senators, congressional representatives and top executive government officials to lower their pay to the level of a minimum wage earner. “If our peak legislative and executive officials are in position for public service and not to wallow in pork then they should be amenable to a radical pay cut. Besides they can better craft law and policies beneficial to the masses once they experience the life of the ordinary worker,” asserted Renato Magtubo, PM chair.
The labor group issued this call as people mobilized today for the anti-pork barrel protest in Luneta and other key cities in the country. PM’s chapters in Metro Manila and Southern Tagalog are joining the Luneta rally this morning while its members in Cebu,
Iligan are also participating in similar activities in the provinces.
PM is advocating an “Apat na Dapat” set of demands to address the pork barrel scandal. First, the abolition of all forms of pork barrel, principally the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the Presidential Social Fund (PSF) and the special purpose funds. Second, the realignment of pork to fund universal social protection from Philhealth coverage to public employment. Third, people’s participation in the budget process from identification of programs and projects to evaluation. And last, the passage of the Freedom of Information bill to enhance transparency and accountability in government spending.
Magtubo said that workers are interested in the protest against pork barrel since through the system of withholding taxes, employed people are taxed on time and pay fully. “Even the informal sector of the working class—the urban and rural poor—pay more than their fair share of taxes since every good and service they buy has value-added tax,” he added.
“But workers do not just want to curb corruption by abolishing the pork barrel. We also want to curtail patronage by removing the discretion of politicians in the delivery of social services. Public services must be accessible to all Filipinos as a right without the need to beg for the indulgence of politicians.” Magtubo explained.
“Just to cite an example, realigning the proposed P25.2 billion PDAF in 2014 can pay Philhealth premiums for a year to 14 million Filipinos, a third of the adult population. The PSF and other presidential pork like the Malampaya funds can cover the Philhealth coverage of the rest of the population to ensure universal health insurance in one stroke,” Magtubo ended.