Press Release

Statement by NCDG on the Pork Barrel

We, the National Clergy Discernment Group (NCDG) composed of priests of the Catholic Church who have committed ourselves to discern our “prophetic role” in the varied signs of the times facing us as a nation and as People of God, hereby cast our lot and stand in solidarity with our people’s denunciation of the corruption-ridden Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). We join the voices of all participants in the “Million People March” in their demands to abolish the pork barrel, to punish the main brains and all crooks who stole the money, to open the official books to public scrutiny for the purposes oftransparency and accountability, and to re channel pork funds to education, health care, housing and other social services.
 
We raise our voices especially in the name of the poorest of the poor whose subhuman life-conditions have been used, and caused in no small measure, by greed-motivated politicians and their business cohorts in their machinations to amass billions of pesos through ghost projects, fake NGOs and unscrupulous minions. We echo the cries for justice among the marginalized poor, the powerless victims of this massive scam, and we demand that the President of the Philippines apply the full force of the law in the immediate resolution of this raging issue. No effort must be spared, in the remaining years of his term, to prioritize and bring about the full and authentic development of our country’s poor.
 
We strongly urge our national leaders, from the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary branches of the Government, to examine the deeper roots of the pork barrel scam, and to address in particular the culture of political corruption that they as politicians have created and perpetuated to serve their own interest. It is this culture that has bred and nurtured the cancer of political dynasties and patronage in our beloved country. It has spawned and reinforced the “epal” syndrome and the mix up of personal interests and official functions. Indeed, political corruption has invaded the very fiber of our social life. It has divided clans and families: husbands against wives, parents against children, siblings against each other, all in the name of power, wealth and prestige. Moreover, this culture of political corruption has inflicted a high toll on our economy, our self-respect as a people, and is a violation of our basic human rights. We call on all men and women in the Government service to fight this culture of political corruption that they have, unwittingly or not, shaped and are now, hopefully, committed to re-shape.
 
We also address the issue of corruption right in our own backyard, in the way we are pastors to our people, in the way we manage our Local Churches. We, too, have somehow contributed to the culture of moral corruption that has given rise to this scam. We have failed to openly and forcefully speak out and promptly confront the issues of corruption even as they stare us right in our faces. We have failed to listen to our people’s cry for justice when their rights are violated. And we too have failed to instill honesty and transparency in our management of our material resources.  Admittedly, our misdeeds have brought shame and discredit to our fraternity as priests and bishops and have shocked and caused disillusionment among the lay faithful. “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.”
 
We extend our hands to all those involved in this scam and to all who have contributed to the culture of political and moral corruption as we pray for God’s mercy on all of us. May our own humble admittance of our failings and lack of moral leadership as your shepherds invite you to do the same as our national leaders so that the light of justice and truth may at last shine and heal our land.

We express our deep gratitude to the netizens and social media practitioners, to the disenchanted professionals and multi-sectoral participants of the “Million People March” for their fearless vigilance in snowballing the moral revolution against the web of corruption in our Governmental institutions. May they raise their current engagement and vigilance to the next level and assist in the birth of a political culture that guarantees responsible governance, transparency and honesty.

We enjoin our abused farmers and workers, the faceless poor and their families, and all the victims of this despicable scam who might have been the recipients of such political largesse to hold on to their struggle to take the road of human development and free themselves from socio-economic enslavement by shaping a culture of self-reliance and political determination.
 
Finally, we invite our people to join us in prayer:

Merciful God of our restless and lost nation, we confess our sinfulness as individuals and as a nation. We have sullied Your blessed Name as we live in stark contrast to your Holy Gospel. Forgive us and lift us up out of our degradation. Enable us to undertake a true and lasting program of moral reformation for Your glory, through Christ Jesus, One and Almighty God, forever and ever.
O Mary, humble handmaid of the Lord, pray with us and for us, for our conversion. Amen.

FOR THE NATIONAL CLERGY DISCERNMENT GROUP

RIGHT REV. MSGR. MANUEL GABRIEL
Convenor