Be vigilant, public told

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Saturday, January 4, 2014


ANTI-PORK barrel groups in Cebu urged the public to remain vigilant as fears that the pork barrel system might take another form despite the Supreme Court’s (SC) recent decision declaring it as unconstitutional.

During a meeting at the archbishop’s residence yesterday, officials of the Cebu Coalition against the Pork Barrel System revealed that there are still issues that have yet to be recognized by the SC, including the legality of discretionary funds being used solely by the President.

Taking a closer look

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, who has been supporting the group’s efforts, said there is still a need to be vigilant, as the SC has yet to determine if President Benigno Aquino III’s discretionary funds, such as the Disbursement Acceleration Program, and other special appropriations are unconstitutional.

Palma admitted that since the SC had declared the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) as unconstitutional, groups supporting its abolition are currently not united.

But he is confident that the plan for a People’s Initiative is not an “impossible dream.”

For now, the anti-pork barrel groups around the country have shifted their focus on preventing the revival of the PDAF through a different kind of form, Palma said.

Nothing new

Regional Trial Court Branch 13 Judge Meinrado Paredes, who was one of the guest speakers during the meeting, said the pork barrel system existed even before the martial law era.

Paredes said the system has taken different form since the 1920s until the present administration, but its main purpose has always been for the President to gain support in Congress.

Marc Canton, one of the coalition’s founding conveners, told reporters that since the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Cebu last Oct. 15, he and other fellow conveners have been busy in relief efforts.

They became more preoccupied when super typhoon Yolanda struck northern Cebu and Eastern Visayas last November, Canton added.

Canton, who heads the Movement for a Livable Cebu, said that with their meeting yesterday, they realized that there are still some issues they need to tackle.

“But at the end of the day, what we’re after is the end of corruption,” he said.

He said relief efforts during the earthquake and typhoon taught them that people around the country can work together for a common cause.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 05, 2014.

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