Bishop criticizes pork scam investigation as ‘biased, selective’

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MANILA, April 7, 2014 — Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo on Saturday criticized as “selective” the investigation of the Office of the Ombudsman and Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that affirms the criminal liability for plunder and graft of three lawmakers allegedly involved in the multi-billion pork barrel scandal.

Pabillo said investigating panels are giving much attention to Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Bong Revilla, Jr., and other opposition lawmakers who allegedly had a hand in the “appalling” misuse of the Priority Development of Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Since the widespread clamor for justice on the pork barrel issue, three opposition senators have been investigated by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and the Ombudsman. (Photo credit: ND/CBCPNews)

“Why are they focusing too much on the three senators? There are many other lawmakers who have benefitted from this scam,” Pabillo said in an interview at the monthly Manila Archdiocesan General Pastoral Assembly (MAGPAS).

“To show that they are nonpartisan in their investigation—that opposition lawmakers are not the only ones being targeted—they have to investigate all those who are involved,” he added, noting that administration allies must also be investigated.

“It seems like (the investigation) is biased and very selective…We do not need to hide this fact because we all know that many senators and congressmen are involved in this pork barrel (scam),” Pabillo said.

Responding to earlier reports that the next batches of complaints on the PDAF misuse will include administration allies, he said: “Why does it have to be in the next batch? Do it now. Show that they are really true and sincere in their actions.”

Pabillo urged authorities to be serious in investigating and filing charges against those who are really guilty of stealing from government coffers.

Despite developments in the investigation of the scandal, Pabillo reiterated that justice will only be served to the millions of Filipino taxpayers once all forms of pork barrel—including the much-contested Presidential Social Fund (PSF) —are already abolished.

“All forms of discretionary funds must either be abolished or lessened to a great extent so there will be no more issue of using the taxpayers’ money for their personal agenda…So that there will be no more political patronage,” the bishop said.

Pabillo downplayed the reported advantages of using discretionary funds to administer basic services to the poor, noting that money to be used for scholarships and medical assistance can just be directed to the intended beneficiary.

“The (pork barrel) bears no good to us. We can fund public services in a better way. We can directly give scholarships to schools and medical needs to hospitals. Let (the particular institutions) be the one to determine, not the politicians,” he said. (Jennifer M. Orillaza)

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