by Cong B. Corrales
THE ASIAN INSTITUTE OF JOURNALISM AND COMMUNICATION (AIJC) has called on President Benigno S. Aquino III to account for all the pork barrel and lump sum funds released under his administration, including discretionary funds that only he has control over.
This, even as the AIJC demanded the removal of all lump sum funds from the budget. The AIJC, a graduate school for journalists, says that the President is just as accountable for the use of lump sum funds as legislators are for their Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF), otherwise known as the pork barrel.
“(The pork barrel) makes a mockery of one of the foundations of our democratic system,” the AIJC said in a statement released to newsmen.
The AIJC says the pork barrel system is a violation of the Constitutional provision on the separation of powers. As well, it destroys the principle of checks and balances” which is supposed to reduce opportunities for the abuse of power and strengthen stability in governance.”
In its statement, the school asked the President to abolish all lump sum funds, both the PDAF and the Special Purpose Funds, and account for “all off-budget funds and remittances, such as the Malampaya Fund, remittances to the Office of the President from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), and Motor Vehicles User’s Charge, in the GAA and itemizing them with full transparency and accountability.”
According to the AIJC, the enactment of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill has become all the more important if only to institutionalize genuine and meaningful transparency and accountability.
The AIJC also enjoined the public to voice their outrage and opinions on the pork barrel scam at its mobile-responsive internet channel, the Fight Corruption Channel.
Organized in 1980 as a graduate school of journalism, the AIJC is a non-stock non-profit organization founded on the doctrine that communication is a “vital development resource to be used to advance the common good.”
The AIJC statement follows:
9 September 2013
MANIFESTO AGAINST ALL KINDS OF PORK
The Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication condemns in the strongest terms the pork barrel and the corruption that it has bred, whether in the legislative or the executive branch of government.
In the pursuit of truth and justice, we express our outrage over an evil system that wantonly assigns huge lump sums of the people’s money and scandalously allows these sums to be used without accountability or transparency.
We make known our indignation over the betrayal committed by those stewards of the people’s funds who have callously and wrongfully enriched themselves, their families and their cohorts through their privileged access to the pork barrel.
We unequivocally hold our leaders accountable and require them, as representatives of the sovereign Filipino people, to stop the plunder of the government treasury and the mockery of our democratic order by abolishing the pork barrel.
The pork barrel, with its discretionary and unaccountable billions of pesos, has been shamelessly used to perpetuate power and privilege in the midst of pervasive poverty and widespread deprivation. It has, therefore, been an instrument in perpetuating the exclusion of the greater mass of our people from what our Constitution envisions as a just and humane society.
The pork barrel, by allowing legislators to be involved in the execution of projects that they choose to fund, violates the provisions of the Constitution on the separation of powers. It makes a mockery of one of the foundations of our democratic system.
The pork barrel, by making legislators personally involved in the speedy passage of the annual budget, renders them ineffective in checking the excesses of the Executive branch when the latter presents its proposed budget for the year.
The pork barrel, therefore, interferes with the system of checks and balances which is supposed to reduce opportunities for the abuse of power and strengthen stability in governance.
We urgently call on the President to exercise his political and moral ascendancy to act in the interest of the Filipino people. We exhort him to show that he is indeed the “President of the People” by:
(1) Demonstrating transparency by giving an account on the legislators who have availed of their PDAF for the entire period of his term, the purpose, and the names of beneficiaries
(2) Leading the way by itemizing and documenting all discretionary lump sum funds in the Office of the President’s budget
(3) Abolishing the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and other lump sums like the Special Purpose Fund (SPF) from the General Appropriations Act (GAA)
(4) Including all off-budget funds and remittances, such as the Malampaya Fund, remittances to the Office of the President from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.(PAGCOR), and Motor Vehicles User’s Charge, in the GAA and itemizing them with full transparency and accountability.
We call on Congress and the President to pass the Freedom of Information Bill to help institutionalize transparency and accountability in governance.
We call on all genuine non government organizations (NGOs) to continue their good work in helping build a progressive, peaceful, equitable and just democratic society.
We call on our local government officials to be in the forefront of weeding out corruption in leadership by being exemplars of good and effective governance in their LGUs.
We call on all communication schools, academic partners, and media agencies to continue to be vigilant so that truth may be told.
We unite with the Filipino people as we pursue truth and justice on this issue of the pork barrel. Let the violators be called to account. Let the wheels of justice roll on the guilty. Let transparency and accountability be upheld. Let us stand firm and keep faith as we safeguard our democracy.
To have your voice heard, log on to our mobile-responsive internet channel, the Fight Corruption Channel, http://fightcorruption.nowplanet.tv.