Multi-sectoral groups took to the streets again yesterday and called for the return of stolen money from “pork barrel” funds.
“This is called restitution,” said retired Lingayen Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz who participated in the Luneta rally.
Citing the Ten Commandments, Cruz said stealing is a crime and “itong pork barrel equals pagnanakaw.”
The prelate explained that “kung mabibilanggo man ang mga nagkasala, makuha rin ang mga pera na hindi sa kanila.”
Cruz cited that it would not look right if those convicted will be allowed to keep the stolen money.
“Kung ikaw ay lilitisin, nasa preso ka, pero nasa iyo pa rin ang pera,” he said. “Nilitis ka, na-convict ka, ibalik mo ang ninakaw mo.”
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes echoed Cruz’s call, saying that money siphoned from ghost projects from the Priority Development Assistance Program (PDAF) should be taken back.
However, Reyes believes that it would be up to prosecutors on how to seize and return the stolen money to the public coffers.
Cruz lamented that because of the slow justice system in the country he might not live to see the results against the pork barrel scam.
“The justice system in the Philippines is very slow. Ako hindi ko malaman kung maabutan ko pa ang panahon na ang bagay na ito ay malulutas sa pagsosoli ng pera,” he said.
National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera doesn’t believe that the stolen money will be returned.
“It’s impossible,” he lamented. “Ang pera kapag nahawakan ng mga taong may mga abilidad, hindi na iyan maibabalik sa pondo ng bayan,” he explained. (Jeffrey Damicog)