MANILA, August 27, 2013—As Filipinos all over the country staged a nationwide protest calling for the abolition of the anomalous pork barrel fund, a high-ranking church official on Monday urged the public to continue their respective protests until such time that truth and justice on the multi-billion scam are achieved. 

Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz called on Filipinos to veer away from exhibiting a “ningas kugon” attitude, the cultural trait that embodies the temporary aggrandizement of one’s efforts, further urging the public to continue the battle against the reigning corruption in government. 

“This is just the beginning, the tip of the iceberg. I hope (initiatives such as this) will continue,” Cruz said as he joined the citizen-led initiative Million People March to Luneta. 

“I hope that we won’t be good in initiating just a single blow. We have to continue this (in order for it to bear positive results),” he said.   

Cruz also expressed doubts over the announcement of President Aquino last Friday on the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF, commonly known as the pork barrel), noting that the move just signified the renaming of the scheme but it essentially “remains the same.” 

“It is a pity that taxation is used for graft and corrupt practices in terms of this pork barrel (issue),” he said. 

He criticized the “matuwid na daan” (straight path) campaign of the Aquino administration and said that it is unsuccessful in curtailing instances of corruption in the government. 

“Graft and corruption is still very strong in this government no matter how ‘matuwid na daan’ there is,” Cruz said. 

The prelate also chided the taxation system of the government, noting that there is an imbalance in terms of collecting taxes between rich and poor individuals. 

“Even impoverished individuals pay taxes whenever they spend. As far as I know, you should only pay taxes when you earn money…But now, taxation is being imposed in every spending we do,” he said in the vernacular. 

Asked on what the government must do to solve corruption issues hounding the country, Cruz suggested that corrupt public officials must resign from their posts. (Jennifer Orillaza)