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OSG bid to quash TRO on pork barrel opposed

Million People March. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—“The monster itself should be slain at once.”

Samson Alcantara, president of the Social Justice Society, told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that the arguments used by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in seeking the partial lifting of the temporary restraining order (TRO) while the constitutionality of the pork barrel system was being reviewed supported his position that the program was flawed.

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“Respondents, by asking for a partial lifting of the TRO, based on humanitarian grounds, have in effect admitted the validity thereof,” Alcantara said in his reply to last week’s OSG comments to the antipork barrel petitions before the court.

The OSG said more than 400,000 recipients of education grants and hundreds of thousands of indigent patients dependent on the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) would suffer because of the TRO the rest of the year.

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Alcantara said acceding to the OSG request would “allow the release of millions of pesos for very questionable projects, activities and transactions, thereby enabling the lawmakers to still continue with the pernicious practice called pork barrel.”

He scoffed at the argument of the OSG, which is representing the Palace and the House of Representatives, that the alleged PDAF abuses were problems of implementation and did not go into the constitutionality of the law, which the court upheld in three previous rulings.

Alcantara said the pork barrel system posed “dangers” that could not be solved alone by prosecuting offenders. He said retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno condemned it to be “evil” while the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines called it an “act of terrorism.”

“It is the mother of all scandals and very destructive of society,” he said, adding that the best way to solve the problem was to “totally eliminate it.”

“If it permits a continuing and blatant violation or circumvention of express constitutional mandates, it should be outlawed without further delay. The monster itself should be slain at once,” he added.

Alcantara noted that pork allocations had ballooned from P12 million for congressmen and P18 million for senators in 1994 to P70 million and P200 million for the lawmakers.

“Surely, these will double or triple in the near future, unless the pernicious practice is stopped now,” he said in his five-page petition.

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TAGS: court, Philippines, Pork barrel, Samson Alcantara, TRO
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