Church backs signature drive vs ‘pork’

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PARAÑAQUE City, Oct. 27, 2014—An ecumenical group held on Sunday, Oct. 26, simultaneous sign-up drives in different Metro Manila churches in an effort to collect as many signatures for the People’s Initiative to Abolish Pork Barrel.

Dubbed the “National Sunday for Sign-Up to Abolish Pork”, the campaign was convoked by the Church People’s Alliance (CPAAPB) against Pork Barrel, with members from the Catholic, Aglipayan, and Protestant churches.

After Holy Mass, Baclaran devotees take part in the signature drive for the complete abolishment of the pork barrel funds at the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Parañaque City.(Photo:Raymond A. Sebastián)

“The Church must continue to stand for truth, justice and righteousness. The challenge is still there, and ever greater: we will mark history for ending the corrupt practice of Pork Barrel by summoning the people to sign up,” the group said in a statement.

Multi-faith initiative

In an interview over Catholic radio Veritas on Friday, Oct. 24, Manila Auxilliary Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo backed the push for the scrapping of pork barrel.

The prelate, who also chairs the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs, explained pork barrel and similar lump-sum funds foster what he called “patronage politics” in the country which, in turn, breeds graft and corruption.

Participating Metro Manila churches include the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Baclaran Redemptorist Church), Santa Cruz Church in Manila, the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo Church), and the Mabuting Pastol Parish in Commonwealth, Quezon City.

The “National Sunday for Sign-Up to Abolish Pork” campaign on Oct. 26, 2014 featured simultaneous sign-up drives in churches around the country, calling for the scrapping of all forms of lump sum funds. (Photo:Raymond A. Sebastián)

The Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, the Dioceses of Sorsogon, Romblon, Borongan, Kidapawan and San Carlos; the Archdioceses of Tuguegarao and Cebu expressed their support of the move.

Sign-ups were also held in dioceses of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church); the United Church of Christ in the Philippines-South Luzon Jurisdiction; and the Central United Methodist Church in Ermita, Manila.

‘Fatty’ 2015 budget

“Let their stand be counted and legislated through the constitutional process of a People’s Initiative. Let the people do what Congress will never do against their own interests,” the church alliance stressed.

The group has also mobilized volunteers who conduct educational fora in campuses, churches, barangays, communities, and in small and large, private groups.

Citing an Ibon Foundation study, the alliance alleged that the lump-sum discretionary funds under the control of President Benigno S. Aquino III (PNoy) are estimated to be P958 billion.

“This includes budgetary support to GOCCs [government-owned and -controled corporations], P61.3 billion; assistance to LGUs [local government units], P33.1 billion; risk management program, P30 billion; support for infra projects and social programs, P20 billion; unprogrammed funds, P123 billion; miscellaneous personnel benefit fund P118 billion; grassroots participatory budgeting, P20.9 billion; and, Pamana program, P7.3 billion,” it shared, describing the 2015 national budget as “loaded with fatty Pork Barrel”. (Raymond A. Sebastián)

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