MANILA — Tens of thousands of Filipinos protested in a Manila park Monday, demanding the scrapping of a corruption-tainted development fund that allows lawmakers to allocate government money for projects in their districts. A government audit released Aug. 16 found that $141 million of the fund allocated over three years under the previous administration was released to questionable aid groups and ghost projects.
The scandal centered on a powerful businesswoman who allegedly collaborated with lawmakers in channeling some of the funds. She went into hiding after she was charged with illegal detention of a whistle-blower.
Reports of her lavish lifestyle have angered many taxpayers in the Southeast Asian country where nearly 28 percent of 97 million people live on a little over a dollar a day.
That prompted calls on social media for Monday’s protest in Rizal Park, where more than 100,000 turned out including students, workers, priests, and nuns. Police said about 70,000 protesters were at the peak of the rally, which also featured group singing, family picnics, and a Mass before a peaceful dispersal.
Similar protests were held in a dozen other cities across the country, and in New York and other cities where there are concentrations of Filipinos.