Abolish pork, then elect ‘new breed’ of leaders—Cruz

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Archbishop emeritus Oscar Cruz speaks during the "#abolishpork" rally in Luneta last Sept. 13.

MANILA, Sept. 16, 2013—The abolition of pork barrel system will bring a lasting change in the country’s political system as it will open the door to a new breed of politicians at next polls, a Church official said. 

“We need political reformers, meaning to say, we need people with honesty and integrity,” Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar V. Cruz said in a recent interview about a lasting solution to institutionalized corruption. 

Pork, the game-changer 

The abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and other discretionary public funds will be a game-changer, according to Cruz, because for many politicians, access to such financial resources is a major come-on to hold public office. 

Some look at their terms in office, he explained, as an opportunity for them to gain back whatever they have spent campaigning to get elected.  

If the pork barrel system no longer exists, a different set of people will definitely run for office, he added. 

“You will see those who will run for public office will be people of honesty and integrity because this  pork barrel is big business. Pork barrel politics is good business,” said Cruz, who joined the first massive mobilization against the pork barrel last August 26. 

Human ingenuity for greed 

While he remains optimistic that doing away with the pork barrel is a step in the right direction, he believes that human ingenuity to perpetuate greed cannot be underestimated. 

“Whatever system you use for the disbursements, people will always have a lot of ways to steal money,” Cruz explained. 

This is why on a practical note, he suggested giving high salaries to those who hold office, as is the practice in countries like Singapore.  

For him, this will give officials the proper incentive to avoid pocketing public funds and even probably support the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill, which will also be a major support for public vigilance and good governance. 

Aside from the PDAF, other public fund appropriations have become controversial like the Conditional Cash Transfer program, which has been alloted P120 billion for the 6 years, but which, critics say, has yet to make a considerable difference in poverty levels and quality of life for some 4.44 million households and 10.2 million children beneficiaries. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]

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