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Bishops tell Noynoy: Abolish lawmakers’ pork barrel fund

June 5, 2010 10:29am

Catholic bishops urged on presidential front-runner Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy" Aquino III to abolish legislators' pork barrel funds once he assumes office, noting that he ran his campaign on the premise of eliminating corruption.

The bishops said the pork barrel fund, or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), is one of the biggest roots of corruption.

“Pork barrel is really a source of corruption (in Congress). Their [lawmakers’] duty is to make laws and rural development," Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said in an interview on Church-run Radio Veritas, excerpts of which were posted on the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines news site.

Under the PDAF system, lawmakers identify priority development projects for funding.

A member of the House of Representatives is entitled to P70 million in PDAF every year to be used in their respective legislative districts, while a senator is entitled to P200 million.

Bastes said removing the pork barrel is already a big achievement as it chops off 50 percent of corruption in the country.

The “bad congressional tradition" should be “forbidden forever," he added.

Instead of lawmakers, Bastes said concerned agencies of government should be handling the billions in pork barrel funds.

For his part, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said the Church has long been appealing for the abolition of the pork barrel system as it had corrupted legislators.

He said the PDAF also paved the way for the legislative branch to lose its independence from the executive branch.

“The congressmen should focus on making laws because that’s what they are supposed to do," said Pabillo.

He added the power that local governments deserve must be given to them because they are supposed to implement projects such as roads and school buildings.

“That is the important duty of the governors and the mayors and not of the senators and congressmen," said Pabillo. — with Nikka Corsino/LBG, GMANews.TV
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