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Cardinal Tagle cries over pork scam

Paterno Esmaquel II
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle backs an investigation into the pork barrel issue, and challenges the people involved to visit the poor

'HEARTBREAKING.' Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle backs the investigation into the pork barrel issue. Photo by Arcel Cometa

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle broke his silence on the pork barrel issue on Tuesday, August 13, and backed the investigation into the scam that he denounced as “heartbreaking.”

Sino bang Pilipino na merong pagmamahal sa bayan ang hindi mababagabag, at lalo na kung ikaw ay may kaunting pagsunod kay Hesus? Parang nadudurog ang puso mo na, kaya bang gawin ito ng tao sa kapwa tao? Kaya ba talagang sikmurain na magagawa ang ganito kalaking, kumbaga, kasiraan para sa bayan?” Tagle said in a press conference on the upcoming Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE).

(What kind of Filipino who has love for country will not feel disturbed, especially if you follow Jesus? It’s like your heart is broken into pieces in asking, can one really do this to one’s neighbor? Can one really stomach inflicting this kind of damage on the country?)

Sometimes, he said, he thinks the corrupt can stomach this because “the poor are absent in their minds and their hearts.”

Tagle challenged not only politicians, but also others involved in this “intricate web” of corruption, to visit the homes of the poor.

Breaking into tears, the pro-poor cardinal said: “Siguro maglakad-lakad kayo sa gabi, kapag nasa bangketa ka na, makikita mo ‘yung… ‘yung mga pamilya na nagbubukas ng kariton, para doon matulog. Mahawakan lang ninyo ang kamay ng mga mahihirap. Siguro naman maaantig ang inyong puso, sana.”

(Maybe you could walk around at night, and when you reach the alleys where the poor live, you can see the… the families who open their carts, to sleep there. Hold their hands. I hope it will move your hearts – hopefully.)

Most prominent voice

Tagle is the most prominent Catholic figure who has spoken out on the pork barrel scam.

He was responding to questions by reporters during the press conference on the upcoming PCNE, a 3-day event in the University of Santo Tomas that aims to rekindle the Catholic faith.

Tagle also told the people involved in the issue: “You can be better than this… There is some goodness in you that comes from God, and let that true self of yours come out.”

Before Tagle, the vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in July criticized the pork barrel as a tool “to strengthen the clutch of politicians to power.”

READ: ‘Man does not need pork to go with bread’

“Man does not live on bread alone, the good Lord taught us; but man does not need pork to go with bread,” said CBCP vice president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, who will assume the CBCP presidency in December.

Senators and congressmen, however, have refused to investigate the scam that involves their colleagues. –

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at