The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Friday said it will support supposedly snowballing clamor for abolition of the Priority Develop-ment Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of lawmakers.
In a statement, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop and CBCP President Socrates Villegas, however, said the Church will only support such clamor if it is pushed in accordance with the law of.
“Rightly appalled by what they take to be the unjust use of public funds through the ‘pork-barrel’ system, some citizens have taken the step the Constitution allows of legislating anti-pork-barrel measures through people’s initiative. All measures our citizens take, provided these are moral, peaceful and lawful, aimed at curbing corruption and the irresponsible used of public funds, have our full support,” Villegas pointed out.
He said many Catholic Church officials are in the forefront of the people’s initiative.
Villegas noted that there are attempts to perpetuate the system by using lump sums in the national budget under different forms to cloak the real intention of the PDAF.
“Since it seems that despite the widespread perception that ‘pork-barrel funds’ have occasioned unconscionable irresponsibility on the part of those who had access to them and a definitive ruling by the Supreme Court that such funds are unconstitutional, we have been informed of attempts to perpetuate the system through the appropriation of lump sums in the national budget under various pretexts,” he said.
“We therefore fully endorse the people’s initiative aimed at legislating the proscription of funds made available to officials and subject to their discretion. We likewise look with displeasure at the practice of classifying as ‘intelligence fund’—and therefore beyond the scope of audit and accountability—sizable amounts of public money,” he added.
“We cannot serve both God and Money.” We choose to serve God and we cannot countenance the idolization of money, especially when it takes the form of unfettered access to the money of the people,” Villegas said.