Yesterday, I played my guitar in what I would probably describe as my biggest gig to date.
The crowd numbering by the thousands cheerfully gathered to show their fury against the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (or more commonly known as the ‘pork barrel’), that are allocated to politicians such as congresspersons and senators, to be used, based on their decision, to fund programs or projects in their districts. Sadly, more often than not, these projects do not serve the interests of any large portion of the country’s citizenry.
This is the reason why I decided to meet up with friends and comrades within the Philippine punk community and play music with them: so that we can stand and share our solidarity with the discontent of the many Filipinos who gathered in Luneta.
Running an efficiently functioning government and ensuring a healthy and sustainable planet is all about stewardship that is embodied in the responsible planning and management of resources.
As Von Hernandez, our Executive Director rightly puts it:
“Just a fraction of the embezzled pork barrel funds could have been used to implement our major environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act,” said Von Hernandez, Executive Director, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, noting that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources always complains about lack of budget to fully enforce these laws.”
Corruption is detrimental to environmental sustainability: Passage of environmental policy and enforcement of laws that guarantee a healthy and sustainable environment require resources from the government (monetary and otherwise). And money misappropriated in the form of pork barrel could have been used to reduce pollution, support sustainable agricultural practices, eliminate waste, guarantee clean and potable drinking water, re-plant deforested areas, level the playing field for renewable energy investments and help vulnerable communities adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Perhaps our collective laxity in making democracy function as an operative venture of participation has made the government forget that it should always be of and for the people. The large crowd that congregated in Luneta Park yesterday gives clear evidence of this growing realization.
However, let us not be misled--yesterday's action, as impressive as it may be, will not be enough to completely eradicate graft and corruption in the government.
We must put our effort to pursuing the cause of building a government that functions despite all its flaws. We must commit ourselves into pursuing democracy as a participative endeavor between the government and its citizens in ensuring that the government is held accountable, and that there are systems in place to make the necessary checks and balances in policy and implementation of services that are ours. Whereas the constitution guarantees us those rights, we must also be responsible and vigilant enough to become parts and participants in such undertakings.
It is high time to wake up and assume full responsibility for ourselves, our nation, and ultimately our world by becoming actively involved in building a government that is fully accountable to the public for its decisions and actions, as it is reminded that the various communities within society are the very people to whom it owes its existence and from whom it derives its powers.
And if the government fails to do so, perhaps the first stanza of the Cock Sparrer, a song that I played yesterday with my teenage heroes from the punk band Bad Omen as a fitting call to action:
We're coming back, we're coming back.
We're coming back to you.
We're never gonna go away again.