‘It’s worse than thievery’
Independent Church heads say pork like stealing alms
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—Bishops from the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) joined the growing call for the abolition of what they termed as the “syndicated distribution of government money to a few.”
During its three-day meeting here that ended on Wednesday, the IFI’s Supreme Council of Bishops (SCB) said the investigation of the pork barrel scam should also continue and that those guilty of its misuse should be prosecuted and punished.
Most Reverend Ephraim Fajutagana, IFI’s supreme bishop, said the pork barrel scam and other forms of corruption in the government “is a disturbing reality” that made Filipinos “suffer from worsening economic difficulties.”
“Government resources, intended to uplift them from the misery of poverty, are systematically stolen from the nation’s coffers,” Fajutagana said.
He said during the three-day meeting of at least 35 bishops, it was agreed that the siphoning off of government funds involving lawmakers, Janet Lim-Napoles, and her nongovernment organizations “is more than a thievery.”
“The controversy has pulled down the curtain of hypocrisy that for decades has covered the syndicated distribution of government resources to the hands of the few, while people are left with badly shaved social services,” Fajutagana said.
Napoles is being accused in the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam, along with at least least 50 congressmen and senators. The scam involved ghost projects.
Right Reverend Dr. Vic Esclamado, chair of the IFI Supreme Council, said because “billions of pesos are being plundered instead of being allotted to a constituency of mostly poor people made the crime more intolerable.”
“We see the pork barrel scam as another manifestation of systemic injustice bred by bureaucratic corruption that arises from the country’s bankrupt political systems,” Esclamado said.
“It has come to simply mean taking money from the beggar’s alms plate or taking a bowl of ‘lugaw’ from the hands of the poor dying of hunger done repeatedly year after year,” he added.
Fajutagana said while “greed in men is a natural thing” humans should be able to learn to control it.
One of the ways, he said, is to “put the welfare of the country and the people first.”
He said to prevent a similar anomaly, the government should totally abolish the pork barrel system.
“(President Aquino) must make every effort, at the same time, to recover the trust of the people toward the bureaucracy through persistent efforts to prosecute and punish plunderers, regardless of who they are,” Fajutagana said. Bobby Lagsa, Inquirer Mindanao
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