Priests and nuns join the Million People march to Luneta on August 26 calling on government to abolish the graft-tainted pork barrel.

MANILA, August 28, 2013—It is not enough to abolish the graft-tainted pork barrel of lawmakers. The discretionary fund of the chief executive too must be abolished, a religious group said on Monday. 

A day after the Million People March that gathered tens of thousands of people in Luneta to protest against the appalling misuse of public funds, the Religious Discernment Group (RDG) said  that all forms of pork barrel must be totally abolished for it promotes the “politics of patronage” in the government.

“Nor is it just the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) which must be abolished, but also the billions in discretionary funds at the disposal of the President himself,” the group said in a statement. 

The group also criticized President Aquino’s statement on Friday on the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), noting that the move only intends to change the name of pork barrel while keeping its original scheme intact. 

“President Aquino announced that he would abolish PDAF but is just offering pork under another scheme,” it added. 

Noting the immense financial aid that the corrupted amount could have contributed, the RDG said it would have been better if the money was used for “the much needed flood diversions, education, urban poor housing, hospitals, agricultural support services, and job creation.” 

“It should be the needs of the marginalized that are taken into account and no room left for political gain,” the group said. 

Approximately P10 billion in pork allocation was allegedly channeled to dubious non-governmental organizations (NGO) by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains behind the pork barrel scam. 

In a separate report, the Commission on Audit (COA) revealed that 12 senators and 180 congressmen channeled P6.156 billion in pork through 82 NGOs from 2007 to 2009. 

The group further emphasized the need for the government to attend to the needs of the poor, noting that “a brother and sister in need must be the first responsibility of any government.” 

“No one can remain insensitive to the economic inequalities in the world…Everyone should be able to make a personal contribution to putting an end to so many social injustices,” the group said, echoing the call of the Supreme Pontiff.  

“Young and old are now not just disappointed, but enraged at the gross misuse of public funds for political and personal gain,” it said. “Let us act together for justice, demand an end to this corruption now, and show that we are a great nation.” 

The statement was signed by RDG convenors Fr. Joselito Sarabia and Sr. Patricia Fox. (Jennifer Orillaza)