Philippines: Thousands Rally Against Corruption
More than 60,000 protesters took to the streets in Manila on Monday, reports Global Post. Protesters were outraged over the misuse of government funds and spurred on by Filipino newspaper Philippine Daily Inquirer's allegations that government officials took nearly two hundred million dollars meant for the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
The rally, organized largely through social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, lasted four hours. A police force of about 1,500 strong was present, but the protest remained peaceful, according to The Guardian. Several other rallies through the country mirrored the tens of thousands gathered in Manila.
Protesters, who arranged to wear white at the rally, called for proper use of public funds which are believed to be frequently pocketed by government officials or spent on fruitless projects intended to win over voters.
Filipino President Benigno Aquino III campaigned on a platform of anti-corruption and has enjoyed consistently high approval ratings. However, his administration has faced a series of scandals involving police killings, sexual assaults by diplomats, extortion, bribery, and one instance in March where Filipino government agents were caught on camera aiding a South Korean fugitive.
Aquino spoke out against corruption on Friday but failed to placate all voters. Promises to overhaul or replace the PDAF did not satisfy those who want the fund abolished and no replacement established.
According to Transparency International, Filipinos have mixed opinions on corruption. About one third of those surveyed believe corruption has decreased over the past two years, one third believe corruption to have remained the same, and one third believe corruption has increased.