MANILA, Sept. 18, 2013—It is impossible for members of the clergy and religious to stay mum on the issue of corruption, a priest said during a recent mobilization of religious congregations calling for the scrapping of the pork barrel system. 

“We cannot take things sitting down in the comforts of our convents and watch our nation fall apart. We need to stand up and make a stand for truth and justice. That is the reason why we are here,” Fr. Leo Dalmao, CMF, provincial superior of the Claretian congregation, said in his homily during the “Mass for Truth”, organized by the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) at the San Agustin Church last Friday. 

The mass and procession, according to Dalmao is to pressure the Aquino administration to scrap the pork barrel system and all other discretionary funds “in all its forms”. 

“No matter what form and makeover it takes, it has always been and will always be a breeding ground for corruption, especially among government officials,” the priest emphasized, explaining the reason behind the adamant stance. 

During his homily, Dalmao highlighted two urgent needs, first, “a government [that] takes risks for the people it claims to serve, rather than one that secures its own interest” and second, “an active citizenry that will take responsibility for the course of the nation’s life, including those of the poor and marginalized.” 

He explained how “a culture of lying, intimidation and impunity” makes standing for truth and justice dangerous. 

In the end, according to Dalmao, farmers, lumads, underpaid teachers, and those in the informal sector carry the heaviest burden of such a culture. 

“In other words, the vulnerable, the weak, the defenseless, and the powerless sectors of our country bear the brunt of these overwhelming and long standing issues,” he added. 

Dalmao explained, the issues of corruption, injustice, failed peace talks and human rights violations are deeply wounding and affecting Filipinos on a massive scale, in terms of resources, quality of life and emotional well-being. 

“It is because without truth and justice, all of us, our nation and the poor people will continue to suffer. I think we as a nation are the crossroads. We have very difficult decisions to make, both as a nation and as an individual,” he added. 

Speaking to some 2,000 people present, Dalmao said the pork barrel scandal is also a wake-up call for members of the Church hierarchy to break through the “veils of religiosity” that alienate them from the world and the suffering of others. 

“Amidst the seemingly insurmountable issues and lies and corruption, we are not hopeless and helpless. And I believe, that is the point of the gathering today; to choose, to make a choice, the choice to be pro-active,” Dalmao told the crowd composed mostly of nuns, priests and other religious, as well as Catholic students. 

Despite not being easy, he explained, having a choice to change things is good news in itself. 

After the mass, the group joined members of other religion in the interfaith service in Luneta. (Jandel Posion)