MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III should lead by example and let go of his own “pork barrel” funds if he was serious about his “matuwid na daan” (straight path) advocacy, a Catholic prelate said on Tuesday.
Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz said he supported Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas call for lawmakers to give up their Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF).
“I hope the President should also not accept his pork barrel and just return it,” Cruz said in a Church forum in Intramuros, Manila.
Cruz said the President might be hesitant to let go of the pork barrel funds because these monies have proven effective in keeping lawmakers in line.
“These funds are used like hammers. If you do not toe the line, you will not get any. That’s what’s disheartening,” he said.
“This matuwid na daan (straight path) is no longer amusing,” he added.
Cruz said the pork barrel system should already be abolished because it has turned lawmakers into virtual heads of agencies in the executive branch of government.
“Congress is meant to come out with laws. Why should legislators act like heads of departments. You name it, there’s an office or agency that execute the laws. So, Archbishop Soc is correct,” Cruz said.
“So if possible, get rid of this so that you won’t be accused of fooling the public,” he added.