Religious group joins public clamor to scrap ‘pork’ scheme

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MANILA, Sept. 12, 2013—A group of clergy and religious sisters joined the strengthening public clamor to abolish lump sum appropriations in government finances, noting that the widely contested pork barrel scheme has just contributed to the unabated flourishing of dynastic and patronage politics in the government. 

In a statement, the National Clergy Discernment Group (NCDG) said the appalling case of alleged fund misuse in the government has nurtured the “culture of political corruption” in the country, tarnishing the integrity of the country’s political landscape. 

“We join (calls) to abolish all forms of pork barrel (congressional and presidential), to punish the main brains and all crooks who stole the money, to open the official books to public scrutiny for the purposes of transparency and accountability, and to re-channel pork funds to education, health care, housing and other social services,” the group said. 

The NCDG urged government leaders to examine the roots of the pork barrel scam and apply the full force of the law in resolving the issue and making all those who are involved in the controversy accountable of their actions. 

“Political corruption has invaded the very fiber of our social life. It has divided clans and families…it has inflicted a high toll on our economy, our self-respect as a people, and is a violation of our basic human rights,” they said. 

“It is this culture that has bred and nurtured the cancer of political dynasties and patronage in our beloved country. It has spawned and reinforced the ‘epal’ syndrome and the mix up of personal interests and official functions,” they added. 

“No effort must be spared, in the remaining years of (President Aquino’s) term, to prioritize and bring about the full and authentic development of our country’s poor,” the NCDG said. 

The group also recognized the shortcomings of local churches in curtailing incidents of corruption within their respective communities, noting that this failure has contributed to the flourishing of corrupt practices in the government. 

“We have failed to openly and forcefully speak out and promptly confront the issues of corruption even as they stare us right in our faces. We have failed to listen to our people’s cry for justice when their rights are violated. And we have failed to instill honesty and transparency in our management of our material resources,” they noted. 

The group called on the faithful to be more vigilant in approaching the issue to help establish a political culture that is founded on “responsible governance, transparency, and honesty.” 

The statement was signed by NCDG Convenor Fr. Manuel Gabriel and by representatives of clergy and religious sisters from various congregations and dioceses. (Jennifer Orillaza)

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