CBCP chief: Don't obstruct pork scam probe

Posted at 05/26/14 1:30 PM

MANILA - The president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is calling on government officials being linked to the pork barrel scam of Janet Lim Napoles not to use their power to obstruct the ongoing government investigation.

In a pastoral letter issued Sunday (May 25), CBCP President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas called on those implicated in the scam to allow an impartial investigation to take place.

"If they are in public office, they must NOT use the power of their office to obstruct the pursuit of truth," he said.

Villegas said the Ombudsman should be allowed to do its task to investigate the scam, which allegedly saw billions of pesos in lawmakers' priority development assistance funds (PDAF) being funneled to fake non-government organizations of Napoles.

He also said those guilty in the scam should confess to their wrongdoing and not muddle the issue.

"Let those who are at fault come out and admit their wrong doings rather than hurling denials and counter-accusations, thus muddling the issue to the confusion of the people. What is stolen must be returned. The good name destroyed must be repaired," he said.

He also urged the media to be fair in protecting the good name of people. "Let those who have been implicated be given proper forum and proper coverage to explain their actions," he said.

At least three opposition senators - Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla - are facing plunder and graft charges for allegedly funneling their PDAF to Napoles NGOs. All three have denied any wrongdoing.

A list submitted by Napoles to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has also identified other senators allegedly linked to the scam, but many of the officials have denied having any dealings with Napoles.

In his pastoral letter, Villegas said he is saddened by the pork barrel scandal and shocked "at the amount of money squandered when there are so many in great need."

"We are grateful that in God’s Providence the scam is coming to light. Truth ultimately comes out. This should make public officials careful that they do not abuse the trust given to them. This also invites all of us to be vigilant over our public officials. There should be public accountability over public trust," he said.

"Let us not lose hope! As in all situations, we will see the light beyond this crisis. It will make us stronger and more mature. Let us not stop hoping, praying and being concerned and vigilant."