Bishop to Aquino: Use pork barrel for ‘Poor Magna Carta’

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MANILA, April 5, 2013— The government should use the pork barrel funds to finance the proposed Magna Carta for the Poor instead of giving it to lawmakers, a church official said. 

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said the millions of poor Filipinos need a measure that would provide them shelter, livelihood, education and health services. 

He said the government money should be handled by concerned agencies of the government to provide the important needs of the people, and not by lawmakers. 

“If they are going to utilize it properly, it will really help the poor and not coursed it through the hands of legislators because that is not their job,” said Pabillo, head of the church’s National Secretariat for Social Action. 

President Benigno Aquino earlier vetoed the proposed Magna Carta for the poor, saying that the government does not have the money to implement it. 

Under the measure, the government is mandated to ensure five basic rights for every Filipino: food, education, shelter, employment, and health services. 

Aquino said the budget required in the bill is way beyond the capability of the government to address the basic needs of the people. 

The President, for instance, cited the provision on shelter, which is around five million social housing units and would cost roughly P2.32 trillion. 

“The government said it has no money but they are giving out hefty pork barrel funds to lawmakers,” Pabillo said. 

Pork barrel, formally known in the Philippines as the Priority Development Assistance Fund, is money taken from the national budget that funds projects of senators or congressmen. 

A lawmaker is entitled to P70 million in PDAF every year and a member of the Senate, P200 million. 

Many bishops have been calling on the government to abolish the pork barrel fund, which according to them, have been one of the sources of corruption. (Roy Lagarde)  

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