MANILA, Sept. 8, 2013—Despite expressing support over movements that call for the abolition of the graft-tainted pork barrel system, a Catholic bishop on Saturday cleared off speculations that the Catholic Church is behind the planned mass gathering on Edsa on September 11.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said the Catholic Church is not organizing the event, noting that it only gave permission to the organizers to use the historic Edsa Shrine as the venue of the mass gathering.
“The Catholic Church did not organize that movement. We only gave them permission to use the shrine as the venue of their mass and vigil,” Pabillo said in his talk during the monthly Manila Archdiocesan General Pastoral Assembly (MAGPAS) held at the Cardinal Sin Auditorium of the Paco Catholic School.
Dubbed as Edsa Tayo, the planned gathering is perceived as a follow-up on the successful citizen-led Million People March held in Luneta last August 26. A mass and prayer vigil will be held as part of the program.
The prelate said the church is not compelling the public to join the movement, noting that it is a personal choice they have to make.
“If you choose to come or not, it is up to you. This just shows how great your stand is regarding this issue,” he said in the vernacular.
Call for sacrifice
Pabillo said the organizers chose to schedule the rally on September 11, a regular working day, to urge people to make a sacrifice in standing against the pork barrel system.
Compared to August 26 which is a holiday (National Heroes Day), September 11 is an ordinary working day. The organizers claim that those who came to the Million People March did not make a sacrifice since the program was scheduled on a holiday, Pabillo said.
“They want those who stand against the pork barrel to really make a sacrifice and allot some time for this gathering. Those who will go there will not just come for leisure, but will pray for the fulfillment of the cause they are fighting for,” he added.
According to Pabillo, a mass will be held at 12 noon and it will be followed by an ecumenical faith service from various religious groups. The movement will run from 11 in the morning to four in the afternoon to avoid traffic build-up in the area.
“We allowed them to use the shrine upon seeing that their program is orderly and systematic. They just want to call on the citizens to be more vigilant,” he added, noting that the organizers are simple individuals who express concern over the corruption hounding the nation.
Total abolition of pork
Pabillo reiterated the collective stand of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) against the pork barrel, noting that the corrupt-ridden scheme must be totally abolished to restore integrity in the government.
“We call for the total abolition of all forms of pork barrel—from the presidential up to the barangay level. Even councilors and youth leaders (Sangguniang Kabataan) have their own forms of pork. This big amount of money serves as a source of corruption that is why it has to be abolished,” he said.
Noting that the lump sum allocation of money in government only promotes patronage politics, Pabillo suggested it would be better if pork allocations are just directly distributed to the various social services of the government.
“The citizens must enjoy free services provided by the government. Instead of coursing the money through politicians to whom the public would just incur a debt of gratitude, why don’t they just allocate the money to social services so people won’t have to ask politicians for dole-outs?” he said.
“Basic services must be provided by the government to its people. The money should not be held by public officials,” he added.
The prelate urged the people to be more vigilant in approaching the multi-billion peso pork barrel scandal, adding that true democracy will only be attained if citizens will effectively guard and take part in the affairs of the state.
“It was said in CBCP’s previous statements that vigilance is the price of democracy. We will only have an effective democratic system if the people are vigilant…If we will not take part with what is happening, it means we are not participating in the democratic process,” he said.
“We also fail to do our responsibility as good Christians if we do not fulfill our duties as citizens of this nation,” Pabillo said. (Jennifer M. Orillaza)