Probe on ‘pork’ should lead to conviction – Bp. Cabantan

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/27 August) – A thorough investigation on the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) should lead to prosecution and conviction, Malaybalay Bishop Jose Cabantan yesterday said.

Cabantan added the investigation should include not only of the family of Janet Napoles but also all members of Congress and government officials involved.

Cabantan, reiterating the position of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA), said the investigation should not be done simply for the sake of doing it.

“That the investigation will lead to prosecution and conviction,” he told MindaNews Monday night in reaction to the Million People March protests held around the country.

The bishop gave the reaction after Malacanang announced that the newly-formed Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council would “investigate and prosecute” all those involved and “recover” assets that were lost in the alleged scam.

He reiterated that they (CBCP) are pushing for the abolition of the pork barrel funds.

“We are for the abolition of PDAF, not just reform. It means abolishing structures for corruption,” he added, stressing the CBCP NASSA’s stand, which he said he received only Saturday evening.

He said he read the stand in his homilies in masses he presided in Malaybalay and Valencia cities.

The bishop reiterated that in January the CBCP pastoral letter urged Congress to pass the Freedom of Information bill as a deterrent to corruption and to ensure transparency and accountability.

“For us citizens, genuine participation by closely monitoring the projects of government towards good governance,” he added in a text message Monday night.

Cabantan said the CBCP-NASSA position reached him too late Saturday evening so there was no time to organize a separate rally against pork barrel in the province.

“Had there been more time, we could have organized the rally in Bukidnon. We were also waiting for the lay people to initiate it,” he added.

Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. issued a memorandum encouraging local government officials and employees to join and support the nationwide protests but called off the rally after President Benigno Aquino III expressed Friday his intention to abolish the controversial PDAF.

Cabantan told MindaNews Aquino’s statement implied reforming not abolishing the PDAF, more popularly known as pork barrel.

“So the people should have pursued the rally instead,” he added. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)