On Monday, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, led a peaceful demonstration to protest against the Filipino government’s pork barreling scandal that has rocked the country.
An investigation recently revealed that that over a two-year period, lawmakers misused over 10 billion pesos ($230 million) in funds meant to assist in disaster recovery efforts in the wake of several typhoons that struck in 2009. The investigation also discovered that funds from pork barreling measures were sent to “dubious non-governmental organizations.”
At the center of the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam is Janet Lim-Napoles, a Filipino businesswoman who is believed to have masterminded the pork barreling and is currently a fugitive.
Addressing the protestors gathered in Luneta, Cardinal Tagle urged the public to “regard the poor with love.”
“I encourage everyone to see, heed the call, and love those who are poor and exploited like our own brothers and sisters. Let us feel the beat of our country’s heart. Listen to the voice of the Lord,” Cardinal Tagle said.
The Archbishop of Manila also urged Filipinos to use the occasion to prove the dignity and nobility of the Filipino race by showing love for their neighbor, their country and their environment.
“Within ourselves, our families, and our brothers and sisters…to whatever part of the world we may be, let us prove that the Filipino is a dignified and noble race,” he said. “Dignified because we fear the Lord, respect human life, give importance to our neighbors, love our country, and care for our environment.”
“The dignified Filipino shall reign. Our systems and policies must all lead toward heroism,” he added.
An estimated 100,000 people were in attendance at the event dubbed the Million People March to express their disgust over the misuse of public funds meant to assist those suffering from natural disasters.