MANILA, August 23, 2013— A group of traders and Catholic bishops have joined calls for the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
In a statement, the Bishops-Businessmen‘s Conference for Human Development (BBC) is concerned over the alleged P10 billion pork barrel scam implicating a number of senators and congressmen.
“On the surface, while the PDAF may directly address local needs, it has nonetheless provided opportunities for corruption to take root and even blossom in various levels of our society… As such, we strongly support initiatives seeking to do away with the PDAF,” the statement read.
The statement was also signed by the CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action—Justice and Peace (Nassa), Citizens’ Congress for Good Governance and Transparency and Accountability Network (TAN).
The groups said that the fund mess has shown the vulnerability of the PDAF to manipulation and corruption not only by public officials but also to “phantom” non-government organizations.
“It is all the more disconcerting that some of our elected representatives, who are expected to be the exemplars of complete adherence with the law, have been associated with the repeated mishandling of the PDAF,” they said.
The groups also expressed support over the ongoing investigation of the pork barrel scandal.
“We ask that those found to have been involved be held accountable to the law’s fullest extent,” they added.
The groups also stressed the need to pass the Freedom of Information Bill into law to promote a “culture of integrity” in government institutions.
According to them, the FOI bill will strengthen existing safeguards to ensure the judicious use of not just the PDAF, but also other sources of public funds.
“We believe that this landmark legislation, coupled with ongoing efforts at promoting good governance, will be an effective deterrent to abuses perpetrated by the corrupt,” they said. (CBCPNews)