Updated: 08/26/2014 04:14 | By Agence France-Presse

Activists, churchmen gather in Philippine protest

Thousands of people including activists and clergy gathered at the Philippine capital's main park on Monday in a rally to denounce the "pork barrel" system which they blame for spreading corruption.


Activists, churchmen gather in Philippine protest

Anti-corruption protesters march to Malacanang palace in Manila on August 25, 2014 - by Noel Celis

Organisers said almost 20,000 people joined the rally but observers said the crowd was much smaller, with police putting it at about 5,000 at its peak.

The crowd, which included nuns, priests and lawyers, was significantly smaller than a similar rally over the same issue last year which observers said drew at least 250,000.

That rally, called through a vigorous social media campaign, had captured the outrage following reports of a scam involving tens of millions of dollars from the "pork barrel" funds of congressmen.

Such allocations are supposed to pay for the pet projects of legislators but large amounts were allegedly syphoned off. Three powerful senators have already been jailed over the controversy.

Influential Manila archbishop Cardinal Luis Tagle praised those taking part in the "march against pork" in a statement posted on a church social media site.

"I extend my greetings and solidarity. Thank you for making democracy alive and active. Thank you for advancing decency in public life," the senior church leader said.

Peachy Bretana, an official of the Scrap Pork Network that was one of the organisers, told ABS-CBN television the issue was non-partisan.

"This is not about parties. This definitely is not anti-administration. This is pro-people," she said.

But many of the protesters at the rally used the issue to attack President Benigno Aquino, whom they accused of abetting the pork barrel system and of seeking a second term despite being limited by law to only one term.

"No to pork barrel. No to term extension," the placards read as protesters carried an effigy of Aquino as a pig.

Aquino, who was elected in 2010 on an anti-corruption platform, has seen his approval ratings dip amid accusations that his allies are among the beneficiaries of the pork barrel system.

The president did not directly address his critics. But speaking at an event at the military cemetery, he called on the public "to remain vigilant against those who seek to sow doubt and lies" and spread "baseless accusations".

Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn

NEWS VIDEOS

MORE NEWS VIDEOS

facebook recommendations

LIVE NEWS RADIO STREAMING

  • 938 Live

    938LIVE is Singapore's only English news and talk station which transmits round the clock with an engaging and enticing spread of programmes on current affairs, health, business and lifestyle as well as news every half hour until midnight.

  • Capital 958


    95.8FM城市频道的前身是"第三广播网"。上个世纪30年代末,新加坡就有中文广播,一路走来经过不少政治,社会局势的改变,中文广播在本地一直扮演举足轻重的角色。