IFI bishops urge Aquino to abolish ‘pork’-A A +A
By Bobby Lagsa
Thursday, September 5, 2013
BISHOPS and priests of Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) from across the country and abroad condemned the utter greediness and corruption plaguing the country and called for the abolition of pork barrel in a press conference here Wednesday.
After their three-day meeting, the 35 members of the Supreme Council of Bishop (SCB), the highest college of pastoral shepherd of the historic and nationalist church, criticized the government for its culture of corruption and demanded justice to poor Filipinos.
Most Rev. Ephraim Fajutagana, the Obispo Maximo XII of the IFI, said that corruption in the government is a disturbing reality where our people suffer from worsening economic difficulties, “while government resources, intended to uplift them from the misery of poverty, are systematically stolen from the nation’s coffers.”
IFI lamented that the case exposed siphoning of money that involves Janet Lim-Napoles and some high-ranking public and elected officials is more than a thievery.
“The controversy has pulled down the curtain of hypocrisy that for decades has covered the syndicated distribution of government resources to the hands of the few while people are left with badly shaved social services,” Fajutagana said.
Napoles is implicated in the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund scam that funneled government money from at least 50 congressmen and senators for ghost projects executed by non-existing nongovernment organizations (NGOs) that she owned.
Right Reverent Dr. Vic Esclamado, chairperson of SCB, said the fact that billions of pesos being plundered are allotted to a constituency of mostly poor people makes the crime more intolerable.
“We see the pork barrel scam as another manifestation of systemic injustice bred by bureaucratic corruption that arises from the country’s bankrupt political systems,” Esclamado added.
A corrupted moral issue
Fajutagan said that the greed in men is a natural thing but it is the human being that will control that greed.
Fajutagana likened Napoles and other government public and elected officials involved in corruption as immoral for their greed.
Fajutagana said that the church will always educate and remind the people to be of service to humanity.
“Always put the welfare of the country and the people first,” reminds Fajutagana.
Fajutagana added that with the recent experiences on corruption charges filed against powerful individuals, it has become exasperating, even impossible to extract justice in the fastest possible time that is done in the right and correct process.
“It has come to simply mean taking money from the beggar’s alms plate or taking a bowl of ‘lugaw’ (porridge) from the hands of the poor dying of hunger done repeatedly year after year,” Esclamado said.
The leadership of the IFI also called and challenged President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to abolish the pork barrel system immediately.
“He must make every effort, at the same time, to recover the trust of the people toward the bureaucracy through persistent efforts to prosecute and punish plunderers, regardless of who they are,” said Fajutagana.
“However, for justice to prevail and for peace to dwell in our land, investigation and prosecution must go beyond Napoles, government officials and politicians linked to Napoles,” said Esclamado.
The IFI leadership also called on to a no-nonsense investigation at the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Finance, for allowing and tolerating systematic corruption over the years.
It also called on to investigate the Commission on Audit on why it is only now that they have come to publish audit reports.
It also called on to investigate the reported connection of pork barrel scam operators to the Office of the President.
“President Aquino must also account himself to the people over the nature and control of the presidential pork barrel that rips a huge amount of money from the national budget,” Fajutagana said.
The IFI also called on the Filipinos and the faithful to be ever vigilant and join the protest actions calling for the abolition of pork barrel and for bringing to the hall of justice those involved in the scam.
“Toward the same call, we likewise instruct all our parish priests to bring to the pulpits this concern for justice, organize and mobilize our communities to participate in protest actions in the spirit of service and solidarity with the poor among people,” said Fajutagana.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 05, 2013.