‘End of PDAF is people’s victory’
Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - November 21, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The decision of the Supreme Court that declared the Priority Development Assistance Fund unconstitutional is a “victory for the people,” Commission on Audit (COA) Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan said yesterday.

“It is a strong message to everyone concerned to be truly careful with the people’s money and be fully accountable,” Tan told The STAR.

It was a COA report on alleged PDAF misuse that had unmasked the alleged connivance between some politicians and private groups in skimming millions of pesos from the fund.

At the center of the controversy is businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles who – along with some politician cohorts – reportedly cornered millions of pesos worth of PDAF projects through bogus non-government organizations and foundations.

Plunder and graft charges have been filed against her by the National Bureau of Investigation before the Office of the Ombudsman, along with three senators and 33 others.

“I hope our auditors will be encouraged even more to work diligently and faithfully for the best interests of our country and people,” Tan said.

“It is a boost to all our efforts in the Commission in this area,” she said, referring to the high court’s decision.

Former Manila councilor Greco Belgica, one of the petitioners against PDAF, said the SC decision “is the best Christmas gift for the Filipino people.”

In an interview with Radyo Bulacan, Belgica emphasized he held no rancor against President Aquino or any of his officials who defended PDAF, saying all he wanted was for the system to improve.

Despite the SC decision, Filipinos should not let their guard down, according to Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) secretary- general Monsignor Joselito Asis.

“The next question is if they would remove (the PDAF), they might replace it with something else. That is something that we should look out for,” Asis said.

Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros called the decision “wise and timely.”

“The people were right all along. It spells the end to political patronage and influence peddling,” he said.

“PDAF by whatever name would be unconstitutional and an obvious disservice to our people. We should always fight such evil,” Batangas Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said.

For the militant youth group Anakbayan, President Aquino and some of his officials should be held criminally liable for defending PDAF.

“He should be punished and held accountable for lying to the public and defending the blatantly unconstitutional pork barrel,” said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairman of Anakbayan. Paolo Romero, Edith Regalado, Evelyn Macairan, Dino Balabo

ANAKBAYAN BATANGAS ARCHBISHOP RAMON ARGUELLES CATHOLIC BISHOPS CHAIRMAN GRACE PULIDO-TAN CONFERENCE OF THE PHILIPPINES DINO BALABO EDITH REGALADO EVELYN MACAIRAN FORMER MANILA PRESIDENT AQUINO
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