NAGA CITY, Philippines — The Archbishop of Caceres has joined the call to abolish the pork barrel system and called on the faithful of Camarines Sur to demand for speedy and fair investigation of those who misused public funds.
“The lawful conviction of those guilty will signal the commitment of our government to truth and justice,” said Caceres Archbishop Rolando J. Tria Tirona in a pastoral letter read in Catholic Churches in Camarines Sur on Sunday.
At the same time, the prelate criticized President Aquino for his stand to merely regulate the pork barrel system, which he said “does nothing to patronage politics, which has hurt the poor the most.”
“The decision of the President to regulate the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) is meaningless for as long as the heart of the pork barrel continues to beat strongly in our political system. It is the same heart that gave life to political dynasties. The essence of pork barrel system and political dynasties is the concentration of power,” Tirona stressed.
Tirona said the faithful must demand transparency and accountability from political leaders and push for the passing of the Freedom of Information Bill, “as it will provide for the structure for public to have greater access to data on government spending.”
He also rallied the faithful to demand for projects that would be truly responsive to the needs of the people.
“When people themselves identify the services and infrastructure, there is no room for ghost projects and vigilance will be enhanced,” the prelate said.
He cautioned the public against partaking of the ‘pork’ in any form that he said was being dangled by corrupt politicians.
Tirona pushed for the restoration of integrity of public office from the barangay level, starting with the selection of candidates in the barangay election of leaders who do not represent political patrons.
He said the pork barrel “is not merely an administrative or an accounting issue but a moral issue that can only be resolved with a fidelity to truth and justice.”
Tirona tagged the pork barrel system as a cause of unending poverty, just like the political dynasty, which has made the people “beg for what actually belongs to them.”
He said that with the exposé on the scam involving the use of the pork barrel fund, or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of senators and congressmen, it has become clear that funds were used for their personal interests.
Tirona said only fragments of the benefit from the PDAF reached the people compared to the benefits reaped by the congressmen and senators while strengthening patronage politics.
“Truly, the pork barrel system is a way for politicians to appear clean when their intent and purpose are in fact corrupt,” he said.