Clerics hails ‘abolition’ of PDAF, but says Aquino must explain discretionary fund use
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III’s decision to abolish the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) was a “very good move” but his administration should also be made accountable for how it spent its own pork barrel funds, an official of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines official said Saturday.
Monsignor Joselito Asis, who is not a bishop but is the CBCP’s secretary general, said the public should also scrutinize how pork barrel funds were spent under the Aquino presidency, particularly if they also went to NGOS linked to fugitive Janet Napoles.
“Both past and present. If they were invested (in bogus NGOs), that means they were not really used [for the public good],” Asis said in an interview.
“Those who received now and before should be made accountable. That’s a good clamor of the people—be accountable,” he added.
Asis said the President’s decision was a good move because it showed that he was listening to the national clamor to abolish the pork barrel system.
“Pork barrel is not only shocking and scandalous, it is shameful and sinful, plain stealing, where the poor and the needy are further exploited and made to suffer again and again,” said Balanga bishop Ruperto Santos.
“PDAF does not help. Instead, it feeds the greed and the avarice of unscrupulous people,” he added.
He said the Diocese of Balanga, which covers the province of Bataan, supported Monday’s planned nationwide rallies against the pork barrel.
“We pray for order and safety during the event and for good nature among the marchers. We pray for a change of heart towards genuine charity and honesty to all,” Santos said.
Bishop Efraim Tendero, national director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, said they were also glad that the President said the pork barrel should be abolished.
“We rejoice with this announcement from the President. However, we still do not know the mechanics on how the fund will actually be disbursed,” Tendero said.
“The journey to liberate the funds of the people for the welfare of the people is just beginning,” he added.
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