MANILA, Philippines— The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has called on the public, including Church-based organizations and institutions, to stop soliciting money from politicians, saying they have become “grateful beneficiaries” of legislators’ “pork barrel” funds.
In a pastoral letter issued on Monday, CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates “Soc” Villegas noted how ordinary citizens have benefitted from politicians’ discretionary funds by asking monetary help and other personal needs from them.
“But before we rush to pass judgment on our legislators who avail of the pork barrel, it would be opportune for us citizens to search our souls and ask “What have I done to contribute to this?” Villegas said.
“In reality, we ordinary citizens partake of the bounty of the ‘discretionary funds’ by asking our government officials to help our personal needs, family concerns, barangay projects or even Church fiestas.”
“Let us make it our rule of life when we relate to politicians “Walang hihingi!” Every time we ask our politicians for monetary help, we tempt them to dig into the pork barrel coffers or jueteng chests to accommodate our request,” he said.
Villegas issued the same call for Church-based groups amid alleged misused of the legislators’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) known as “pork barrel.
Church-based organizations and institutions, he said, must make it their mantra not to solicit money from politicians.
“We in Church can contribute to the corruption by grabbing a piece of the pie through our solicitation from government officials—from candles to basketball uniforms to bags of cement to government bulldozers. We tempt the public officials to get money from jueteng or the pork barrel in order to accommodate us. Walang hihingi,” he said.
As stewards of the materials goods of the Church, Villegas said, the Church groups must be transparent in their fund raising projects.
He said they must also have an accounting of their funds, “insuring all the time that the principle of accountability is observed.”
“When we are less than transparent in our accounting, we hurt the truth. Ang sinungaling ay kapatid ng magnanakaw (A liar is related to a thief),” he said..
Villegas lamented that Filipino voters have become “grateful” beneficiaries of legislators, whom they expect to give them something when they need it.
Legislators in turn, he said, had become “thankful” recipients of the largesse of the lawmakers’ pork barrel.
Thus, he said, it was imperative “for the sake of sound stewardship of public money,” that those who approve the government’s budget “are distinct and separate” from those who implement the projects.
“Let the legislators legislate and the executives execute,” said the CBCP head.
And “in order to protect the national and local executives from the temptation of corrupting public money,” Villegas said the Commission on Audit must do its mandated duty “with strength of will, vigilance and diligence.”
Legislators, on the other hand, he said, must strengthen their oversight, monitoring and evaluation functions with the public participation of the Church, business and civil society groups.
“Man does not live on bread alone, the good Lord taught us; but man does not need pork to go with bread,” Villegas added.
CBCP Pastoral Letter
Originally posted at 1:28 p.m.