Prelate calls for ‘restitution’ of stolen pork funds

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MANILA, Sept. 22, 2013—Following the recent filing of plunder raps against personalities allegedly involved in the multi-billion peso pork barrel scandal, a high-ranking official of the Catholic Church on Saturday called for the restitution of stolen public funds back to the government coffers. 

Retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz said it is not enough to imprison those who are behind the controversy, noting that the issue would only be resolved once the swindled public funds are fully recovered and returned to the public. 

“The quest for truth and justice has already started, but the end is still far from reach. I am hoping that this would end not just by sending those who will be proven guilty to jail, but to also return the money stolen from the people,” he said. 

“If they would be imprisoned but the money would still remain in their pockets, what kind of system is that? The last part of this should be restitution and not just imprisonment,” he added. 

Cruz also expressed doubts that the pork barrel controversy would be resolved within the term of President Aquino. 

“The incumbent administration only has three years remaining in its term, I am not sure if they can do it…But I am 100 percent certain that this issue of the pork barrel will not be resolved three years from now. That is 100 percent sure. What happens then, we have to wait and see,” he said. 

To fully restore transparency and accountability among public leaders, Cruz said the next president must continue the battle against the system of corruption prevailing in the government. 

“The succeeding president must strive to continue the fight until those who will be proven guilty are jailed and stolen funds are recovered,” the prelate noted. 

Cruz added that more than any attempts of those in authority to change the name or disbursement mechanism of the pork barrel fund, it is the presence of trustworthy public officials in the country’s political landscape that matters most. 

“The very core of the thing will always be to have honest and straight public officials holding the public funds,” he said. (Jennifer Orillaza)

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