Jul 202013
As they join Filipinos in listening to President Benigno Aquino’s State of the Nation Address on Monday, Catholic bishops particularly want to hear Aquino tackle his administration’s actions on economic growth and graft.

The bishops also said they want to learn what Aquino will do to curb corruption stemming from lawmakers’ pork barrel funds.

President Aquino has so far kept mum on what he will discuss in his SONA.

“I hope to hear from you on this, on your next SONA,” Digos Bishop Guillermo Afable said in a July 18 letter to Aquino, excerpts of which were posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines news site.

He was referring to an alleged P10-billion scam involving the pork of lawmakers supposedly going to dummy non-government organizations.

Afable urged Aquino to use his political influence to end the “despicable” practice, saying the Filipino people “deserve better than this.”

“It’s about time you come out clean with this and put an end to this shameful practice,” he said in his letter to Aquino.

“I know you and your Cabinet will find a more creative, but just and ethical way of bringing the government closer to the people,” he added.

For his part, Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco said poor Filipinos have yet to feel the economic growth the government claimed to have accomplished.

“The benefits of a good economy should trickle down to the poor and unemployed. As of now the poor and many people do not feel the good economy,” a Philippines News Agency report quoted Ongtioco as saying.

Retired Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez Jr. added that Aquino should discuss what actions the government has taken against corruption.

Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes added that “despite the economic growth, the poverty incidence is still huge.”

Meanwhile, Jaro, Iloilo Archbishop Angel Lagdameo wants to know the government’s response on the issue of pork barrel funds.

“I reiterate the bishops’ proposal or suggestion that the pork barrel be better used for common good that there be honesty and transparency in reporting its use,” he said.

“Those who misuse pork barrel must either be deprived of it or be dealt with justly,” he added.

‘Ten lies’

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of the Philippines said it expects at least 10 “lies” by Aquino when he delivers his SONA before a joint session of Congress.

Among the items it expects Aquino to discuss – and “lie” about – are:

– “rapid economic growth” versus the reality of the intensified crisis and the sharp decline of the people’s quality of living.

– “economic progress through public-private partnership programs” versus the reality of rising costs of health, education, public utilities, housing, transportation and communication services.

– “job-skills mismatch” and “widespread job opportunities” versus the reality of grave scarcity of jobs and continued efforts of the government to export Philippine labor.

– “only remnants of old corruption remain” versus the reality of big-time corruption by Aquino’s relatives and cronies.

– “peace in Mindanao is around the corner” versus the reality of continued armed offensives by the military.

– land reform versus efforts to hinder and prevent the free distribution of land in Hacienda Luisita and other vast estates.

– “military and police respect for human rights” versus the reality of widespread abuses and cases of extrajudicial killings, torture, illegal arrests, militarization of communities, violation of the rights of children, women and elders.

– “rural peace and development” through the “conditional cash transfer program” versus the widespread reality of landlessness, land grabbing, encroachment of foreign mining companies, plantations and other agribusinesses in the countryside.

– “defending sovereignty against China” versus the reality of allowing the US military to entrench itself in the Philippines through the Visiting Forces Agreement and access arrangements.

– “success of Oplan Bayanihan” versus the reality that the NPA grows rapidly.

— LBG, GMA News

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