Social media fuels massive Philippine anti-graft rally

Social media fuels massive Philippine anti-graft rally
A demonstrator waves the Philippine flag as people gather during a protest against official corruption.

MANILA - Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in the Philippine capital on Monday to voice outrage at corrupt politicians, in a modern-day "People Power" rally fuelled by social media.

The march, emulated on a smaller-scale in other cities around the country, was the largest anti-graft demonstration since President Benigno Aquino was elected in 2010 on a platform to fight corruption.

The protesters ranged from members of the clergy and students to businessmen, middle-class families, lawyers and other professionals, in a sign of the breadth of anger over graft in the impoverished nation.

But while few called for the ouster of Aquino, whose personal ratings remain high, there was widespread fury with politicians.

Retired university professor Teodoro Jurado, 80, said "We are all angry at all the stealing of the politicians. We are telling them that time is up."

Calls for protest began circulating on Facebook and Twitter about two weeks ago after a series of newspaper articles, many in the popular Philippine Daily Inquirer, about a mammoth scam involving legislators' Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

The PDAF is money allocated for lawmakers to be used in their pet development projects. Critics charge that they fund "pork barrel" projects which have traditionally been a source of corruption.

At the centre of the controversy is a businesswoman the newspapers reported to have allegedly connived with legislators to syphon off some 10 billion pesos (S$294 million) from the fund.

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