'Pass FOI bill to stop PDAF misuse'
MANILA, Philippines (Updated) - Probe solons. Abolish the pork barrel system. Pass the (Freedom of Information) FOI bill.
This is what businessmen, church leaders and members of civil society say the government should do to address the scandal involving the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel by senators and representatives.
The Makati Business Club (MBC) and the Coalition Against Corruption (CAC) on Sunday, August 18, condemned the "systemic diversion" of the pork barrel for "private aggrandizement" into "phantom organizations."
"Thus it is most unfortunate that amidst the earnest efforts of the government to bolster the national coffers through increased tax compliance, the people’s money has been allegedly misused by conniving individuals, both inside and outside of government," the groups said in a statement.
The Commission on Audit's latest report on the PDAF found at least P6.156 billion worth of pork barrel was misused and released to dubious non-government organizations.
"The current scandal shows just how vulnerable the PDAF is to manipulation and corruption, and exposes the utter lack of accountability among its many proponents. As such, we strongly support initiatives seeking to do away with the PDAF," the groups said.
MBC and CAC challenged lawmakers to pass the FOI bill, which seeks to install fast procedures on accessing documents of high public interest, to stop future misuse of public funds.
"We believe that this landmark legislation, coupled with ongoing efforts at promoting good governance, will be an effective deterrent to abuses perpetrated by the corrupt," they said.
The statement was signed by the Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference for Human Development, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines - National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice, and Peace, Citizens’ Congress for Good Governance, Makati Business Club and the Transparency and Accountability Network. - Angela Casauay/Rappler.com
(READ Rappler's series of reports analyzing the PDAF released through Nabcor)