A Pastoral Letter on the People’s Initiative to abolish the Pork Barrel System

Palma-629x455To the Clergy, Religious, Seminarians and Laity of the Archdiocese of Cebu

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

“Our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active” (1 John 3:18).

The PORK BARREL is a LUMP SUM AMOUNT given to any branch or office of government, the SPECIFIC USE of which is left to the DISCRETION of ONLY ONE person, and his/her minions. This is known as the pork barrel SYSTEM. As a system, it is OPEN to corruption, and misuse for political patronage. The issue is AGAINST the PORK BARREL as a SYSTEM, wherever and in whatever form it might exist.

The Supreme Court has ruled the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the acts and practices in the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Yet, on closer examination, the proposed 2015 General Appropriations Act reveals PORK BARREL insertions. This makes it clear that those who benefit from the present Pork Barrel System will not let it go IN PRACTICE.

It is in this context that I support the move of the People’s Initiative to Abolish Pork Barrel (PIAP). Since most legislators are not willing to legislate to abolish ALL PORK BARREL as a SYSTEM, then, the time has come to use the remedy enshrined in the 1987 Philippine Constitution. The sovereign people themselves have the legal and CONSTITUTIONAL power to craft a law that will truly express the will of the people.

On the 23rd of August 2014, Cebu will host a National People’s Congress that will approve the DRAFT LAW. Then, it would be presented to the people in Plaza Independencia for the start of the NATIONAL SIGNATURE CAMPAIGN, leading to a referendum. Once the required votes are in, the PEOPLE’S INITIATIVE becomes a LAW; not subject to veto by the President.

This is a historic project. I am endorsing the INVITATION to the National People’s Congress at the Cebu Mariners’ Court, on 23 August 2014, 8:00 a.m, to 3:00 p.m.

My strong desire is that the whole Archdiocese of Cebu becomes one in supporting this advocacy, which is also my own personal advocacy. Therefore, I invite the following to attend the above activity, so that our lay people, in this Year of the Laity, will see us in solidarity with them. The laity are the primary agents of political change.

I am inviting the following to the People’s Congress on August 23, 2014, 8:00 am to 3:00 p.m.:
1. Episcopal Vicars
2. Clergy representatives from each district and vicariate
3. Lay representatives from each district and vicariate.

I invite all the parishioners and all sectors of society, e.g. students, professionals, workers, farmers, fisherfolks, the urban and rural poor, out-of-school youth, government people and organizations, civic and people’s organizations, business people and others to join the start of the SIGNATURE CAMPAIGN on the same day at 2:30 p.m. at the Plaza Independencia.

I ask my Episcopal Vicars to facilitate the participation of our Archdiocesan representatives, as co-hosts. Please update me of the parishes’ participation and concrete activities in this advocacy for good governance and political reforms.

With my paternal blessings, I remain

Yours in Christ,

+JOSE S. PALMA, D.D.
Archbishop of Cebu
August 11, 2014

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