Non-abolition of pork barrel violates people’s rights to social services

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NAGA CITY, 16Aug2013 – Human rights group today joined the call for the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or the so-called pork barrel, which includes the social fund of the President and local government officials.

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, said that “the pork barrel is not only a source of corruption but it also violates the people’s rights to essential social services.”

“Instead of using the fund for education, health, housing and other services that will directly serve the people, it passes through another unnecessary layer, where unscrupulous politicians and their agents take advantage of, for their personal gains,” Palabay elaborated.

Karapatan also censured the position of Pres. Noynoy Aquino in favor of maintaining the pork barrel, despite growing public clamor for its abolition in the light of allegations involving corruption of P10 billion in government funds by Janet Napoles with the complicity of executive agencies, legislators and local governments.

“It is more infuriating to hear how the President downplayed the P89.2 million released by the Department of Agriculture, under his administration, to a bogus NGO, placing it in contrast to the P728 million fertilizer scam and other corruption scandals during the Arroyo regime. He desperately tries to portray his administration as the lesser evil,” Palabay commented.

Karapatan noted that Aquino used the same “lesser evil” logic with regards to his administration’s human rights record, in an attempt to tone down criticisms on continuing extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations under his government.

Palabay asserted that “even a single centavo stolen from the public coffer is still and, definitely is, corruption and a blotch on the “straight path” Aquino so often flaunts about; just as a single extrajudicial killing in his time is a smudge of blood on this path.”

“The Aquino government cannot be absolved by the mere lesser number or amount of corruption, neither by the mere lesser number or frequency of extrajudicial killing and enforced disappearance.  Its reaction on the pork issue is comparable to its promotion in rank of alleged perpetrators in the Burgos and Morong 43 cases, tolerating the perpetuation of impunity.”

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