Power to the People #MillionPeopleMarch

Before you suit up for Monday’s Million People March, I’d like to ask for this small favor, and read the rest of this article. In fact, if you’re not going – either because you made up your mind long ago that you won’t go, or because the recent hijacking of the march has turned you off, then all the more I pray that you read this article. Because before we meet out there in Luneta, there are a few things I’d like to get off my chest.

First, a recap is in order. The original idea of the Aug. 26 Million People March is that we were going there as incensed *individuals* coming together. By “individuals” it was meant that no affiliations would be invoked. It was to send a message to the powers-that-be that we will no longer abide the rampant theivery and the failure to make accountable those who are complicit. It was to express to our government that we demand transparency in the way our tax money is being handled and spent, and accountability of those who have seen fit to make public funds their personal piggybank.

I liked this idea. I liked it a LOT. What made that idea powerful was *precisely* the absence of group affiliation. We would be ANGRY FILIPINOS. Nothing more. Nothing less. This was to be a beautiful scene where political ideologies didn’t matter, religion didn’t matter, social strata didn’t matter: We, the People, would be there, and our silence would be deafening.

Then the militant groups came marching in.

It seems to have started innocently enough. They wanted in. No problem, anyone could join. Then came the negotiations. , they said. No placards, they said. No effigies, they said. All of which they reneged on and pressed for allowance until the other groups relented.

Little by little, the direction of Million People March seemed to veer off course. The discussion and messaging focused on PDAF, purportedly the instrument of Malacanang power over Congress, and its abolition. Slowly, the issue of the P10B PDAF stolen through the Napoles fake NGOs faded into the background, as did any discussion of seeking the colaborators and the co-conspirators and making them accountable. The self-appointed “organizers” facilitated the developments, and things went smoothly – until PNoy launched the front kick to the face they never saw coming.

All of a sudden, PDAF was no more.

Faced with the prospect of protesting against something that no longer existed, the “organizers” could have opted to simply shift the focus on the other portions of the message: transparency and accountability. Pass the relevant laws to keep the disbursement of public funds open to scrutiny, hunt down those responsible for the misuse of those funds, and encourage the citizens to be more active in seeing justice done.

Instead, they chose to shift the goalposts – the problem being aggravated by the fact that they shifted the goalposts in different directions all at once. Whether it be about PNoy’s own Php1 Trillion, the Malampaya funds, an accusation of mere “renaming” of PDAF, or the same tired “yellow zombie” line, it is now clear that after PNoy gave us exactly what we asked for (as opposed to what we expected him to do, or as opposed to what we *specifically* wanted to happen, which is now evidently as infinitely varied as there are indiviuals and groups participating in the discussions), many of those just riding the PDAF issue were shell-shocked and could not get a cohesive message going. “Thanks for listening, PNoy, but we’re still outraged.” “No thanks for not listening, PNoy, it’s just the same thing, only renamed.” “Regadless of any changes implemented, we’re still not a “kakampi” of the Aquino regime. “

Because the negotiations and talks happened behind closed doors, the calls are now just as confusing. “Don’t bring signs or banners.” “Bring banners to help people find your spots in the par. ” “Don’t bring effigies. ” “Bring effigies you made a few days ago, it’s just ‘art.’ ” “Bring your families. ” “Don’t bring your families. ” “Wear white. ” “Wear any color. ” “Wear white, again. ” “Go to show your indignation and rage. ” “Don’t go if the presence of the Left makes you uncomfortable. ” “Go despite the presence of the Left, they’re not the ‘organizers’ anyway. ” “But if you do go, here are some helpful tips as espoused by the Left…”

You know what? To hell with them. If they want to have their Org Fair in Luneta, let them. They have their space. We have ours. We have better things to do there.

In the hands of the militant Left, a rally is just another “same-old” rally. But in the hands of the unaffiliated people, a rally is power. Power to convince, power to influence. Because the gathering of unaffiliated people for a single purpose cannot be tainted by failed ideologies and hidden agendas. Because when the unaffiliated angry Filipinos gather, we alter the course of history.

And so we go back to the original idea, because it is by far the clearest concept of what the Million People March should be: an angry People, gathering to demand government action on a gross injustice.

Of course, we’ll vary in specifics. That’s part of the beauty of this all: no one will speak for others. We are there collectively, and that is a message unto itself. Our individual presences is also a message, and in that message we can define our contributions to the marketplace of ideas.

That said, the following are the ideas I am representing when I go to Luneta:

1. I want transparency on the part of the people and agencies who will identify, process, and implement district projects. No matter the alternative proposed by Malacanang or by Congress, I want a means by which all of the steps may be scrutinized by anyone willing and interested. This means the passage of a Freedom of Information Law that restricts access only to information affecting civil rights and liberties, and places a strict burden on government to justify non-disclosure.

2. I want accountability. I want the full extent of the PDAF scams probed by all agencies with the power and authority to do so. If it takes an independent commission, then so be it. I want both houses of Congress to transparently investigate their past and current membership, and expel incumbents later charged and found guilty.

3. I want Congress to pass a law institutionalizing a lean, metrics-based, process-based, epal-free method by which district projects can be formulated and implemented with the cooperation and consultation of the affected LGus, then handed over to the involved LGUs for continuation, all without having to pass through the possibility of a Presidential line-item veto, to preserve the separation of powers.

How about you? Are you angry at the thievery? Are you pissed off that we’re having trouble making people accountable? Do you have your own thoughts about how we can replace PDAF and other lump-sum discretionary funds? Then please, join us at Luneta on August 26. This is your chance, don’t let others purport to speak for you. Because you have the right to get angry, the right to be pissed off.
Most of all, you have the right to h

Jego Ragragio

Juan G. M. Ragragio is a thirtysomething year-old nerd/geek hybrid who blogs athttp://raggster.wordpress.com and tweets athttps://twitter.com/raggster. When not online, he either attends law school at the University of the Philippines College of Law or stays home inventing new ways to use chicken noodle soup.

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