PASTORAL LETTER ON THE RESTORATION OF INTEGRITY
By His Grace
ROLANDO J. TRIA TIRONA, O.C.D., D.D.
Sunday, 25 August 2013 – Pilgrim City of Naga
“Buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals,selling even the sweepings with the wheat. The Lord has sworn by himself,the Pride of Jacob: “I will never forget anything they have done. (Amos 8,6-7)
My dear brothers and sisters!
In recent weeks, we witnessed the unfolding of an unconscionable scam in our country.We are shocked and aghast by the discovery of widespread plunder of public funds through thepork barrel system. We thank the heroism of the whistleblowers who risked their lives and theinstitutions that saw the urgent need to act on the issue.His Excellency, President Benigno Aquino III, has announced that the PDAF will beabolished and that more stringent procedures will be observed so public funds will not be used for ghost projects.We acknowledge his response to the nationwide clamor to abolish the pork barrel.However, the pork barrel is not merely an administrative or an accounting issue. It is a moralissue and as such, can only be resolved with a fidelity to truth and justice.
THE TRUTH ABOUT PORK
We acknowledge that discretionary funds are necessary for governments to run. But likepolitical dynasties, the pork barrel is a cause of our unending poverty: lawmakers are at the behestof the Chief Executive and, appallingly, the people beg for what actually belong to them.With the Chief Executive controlling the release of the funds to congressmen and senatorsour laws may not be the will of the people. With congressmen and senators releasing the funds for their pet projects, public funds may be used for their personal interests, as what is happening now.There may be projects from the PDAF of some congressmen or senators that benefittedthe people. But these are mere fragments compared to the benefits reaped by congressmen or senators as the PDAF strengthened patronage politics. Truly, the pork barrel system is a way for politicians to appear clean when their intent and purpose are in fact corrupt.
PORK, BY ANY OTHER NAME, IS STILL PORK
The decision of the President to regulate the PDAF is meaningless for as long as the heartof the pork barrel continues to beat strongly in our political system. It is the same heart that gavelife to political dynasties. The essence of the pork barrel system and political dynasties isconcentration of power.