By JUAN ESCANDOR JR
NAGA CITY: Joining the call to abolish the pork barrel system, the Archbishop of Caceres here asked the faithful to initiate social reforms with their active participation in governance.
In his pastoral letter, Msgr. Rolando J TriaTirona, OCD, DD, asked the faithful to demand for speedy and fair investigation of those who misuse public funds.
“The lawful conviction of those guilty will signal commitment of our government to truth and justice.”
Tirona said the faithful must demand as well transparency and accountability from political leaders and push for the passing of the Freedom of Information Bill “as it will provide for the structure for public to have greater access to data on government spending".
He also rallied the faithful to demand for projects that are truly responsive to the needs of the people.
“When people themselves identify the services and infrastructure, there is no room for ghost projects and vigilance will be enhanced.”
He cautioned not to partake of the ‘pork’ in any form that he said is being dangled by corrupt politicians even as he criticized the move of President Aquino to simply regulate the pork barrel system which “does nothing to patronage politics which hurt the poor the most".
Tirona pushes for the restoration of integrity of public office from the barangay level, starting with the selection of candidates in the Barangay Election of leaders who do not represent political patrons.
He said that pork barrel is not merely an administrative or an accounting issue but a moral issue that can only be resolved with a fidelity to truth and justice.
Tirona tagged the pork barrel system as a cause of unending poverty like the political dynasty which makes the people “beg for what actually belong to them.”
He said the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) is used for personal interest with the Chief Executive controlling the release of funds and congressmen and senators releasing the funds for their pet projects.
Tirona said that only fragments of benefit from the PDAF reach the people compared to the benefits reaped by the congressmen and senators while strengthening patronage politics.
“Truly, the pork barrel system is a way for politicians to appear clean when their intent and purpose are in fact corrupt,” he said.
“The decision of the President to regulate the PDAF is meaningless for as long as the heart of the pork barrel continues to beat strongly in our political system. It is the same heart that gave life to political dynasties.
"The essence of pork barrel system and political dynasties is the concentration of power,” Tirona added. - Bicol Mail