MANILA, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- Large crowds of angry Filipinos flocked to the Rizal Park in Manila on Monday morning to participate in a protest rally dubbed as "Million People March" to condemn the misuse of "pork barrel," public funds for local projects secured by legislators.
The rally was described by local media as "the first biggest protest against the Aquino administration."
The protesters came from various social sectors including religious, professional, business and even civil servants. They shouted the slogans of "Scrap the pork barrel now" and "Punish the corrupt."
"It is not only for one day, Today's march is just the beginning," the organizer said.
Similar protests were also staged in key cities across the Philippines. In Cebu City, central Philippines, a hundred people started to gather at Plaza Independncia around 9 a.m. local time. In Davao City, in southern part of the country, 500 people took part in a similar rally. Protestors in Negros Occidental and Cagayan de Oro also went to the streets on Monday.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III vowed on Monday to punish those who were allegedly behind the misuse of multi-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or "pork barrel" as protest actions against the pork barrel kicked off on the same day.
In a statement issued on Monday, Aquino said, "we will do everything to determine and to punish those who connived to smear the supposed good purpose of PDAF."
Aquino assured to use rightly the people's money.
The protest rally was triggered by the discovery of at least 10 billion pesos (227 million U.S. dollars) in pork barrel funds were allegedly pocketed by some corrupt government officials in connivance with fake non-government organizations during the past 10 years.
Last Friday, Aquino declared that he would scrap the PDAF and would institute a new mechanism for a more transparent use of national budget. But some analysts say PDAF is only part of the pork barrel.
Policemen in Metro Manila were on high alert to ensure security and the armed forces said to be ready for assistance.