Sereno says message is clear: Pork is illegal
The Supreme Court has declared the pork barrel system unconstitutional, and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno hopes the message is clear.
Calling for public vigilance on Wednesday, Sereno expressed hope that there would be no future attempts to revive the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013 amid scandal over the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
“I hope that the PDAF ruling has already driven the message that the pork barrel system is not going to be perpetrated again,” Sereno said in a forum with fellow members of the Ten Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service Foundation Inc. (Towns).
The Supreme Court followed the discovery and busting of the PDAF racket allegedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles and led to the filing of graft and plunder charges against Senators Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile and several former or current members of the House of Representatives.
“I hope it doesn’t resurrect in another form. We need the continued vigilance by everyone,” said Sereno, a Towns awardee for law in 1998, when asked how the Philippines could effectively clamp down on corruption.
Sereno cited the danger of letting down the nation’s collective guard.
“If we are not able to win this fight against corruption, the danger is we will all be cynical, the lesson is the right to be dishonest. How can we recover?” she said.
She said the nation was still getting back on its feet nearly 30 years since end of martial rule, a period marked by massive official corruption, the illegal wealth from which the state is still running after to this day.
“This is a fight of monumental proportions. We cannot afford to lose. It we revert to the dark days of dishonesty, I don’t know what will happen to us again,” Sereno said.
She called for a relentless campaign for honesty: “I think this country has to talk about honesty on a daily basis, not get tired of talking about honesty.”
Sereno also spoke about lost opportunities in the previous years of accountability agencies such as the Commission on Audit and the Office of the Ombudsman, and even in the judiciary.
“If you only had these institutions that guaranteed integrity, including the judiciary, behave in a way that is fearless, that does not recognize gratitude for the appointment as something that must be paid for by corrupt decisions, if we drill into every one’s minds that we must be free from political pressure, we will not be in this situation where some are saying ‘we could have done better,’” she said.
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