“It is the government’s responsibility to serve the people. We, as citizens, have the right and capacity to search for the truth regarding how our government is being run and how our taxes are being used. “ – Archbishop of Nueva Segovia Ernesto Salgado
By JOAN GARCIA
VIGAN CITY, Ilocos Sur — Church groups and progressive organizations came together last Saturday, September 28, in a prayer rally against pork barrel and corruption.
Led by the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Nueva Segovia, Ilocos Sur Ecumenical Movement (ISEM), Solidarity of Peasants Against Exploitation, Times Employees Union and Kabataan Partylist- Ilocos Sur, hundreds of residents from the different towns of the province marched around the city and held a program at Plaza Burgos.
In a written statement read during the program, Archbishop of Nueva Segovia Ernesto Salgado said that he is one with the people in their call for the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund and other discretionary funds.
“It is the government’s responsibility to serve the people. We, as citizens, have the right and capacity to search for the truth regarding how our government is being run and how our taxes are being used. It is our right and responsibility to make the government officials accountable and for them to give real public service. It is our right and responsibility to assert for reforms in the government”, Salgado said.
Aside from the abolition of the PDAF, Salgado also called for the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill, saying that it will ensure accountability of public offices.
A short play entitled Asyong Korapsyon was presented by the youth in which the various anomalous projects of the provincial government under former Governor Chavit Singson were enumerated. These include the construction of the Aluling bridge, multi line, tomato paste plant, tobacco flu curing barns and greenhouse seed bank.
Started 35 years ago, the Aluling bridge was supposed to connect Ilocos Sur and Mountain Province but has not yet been completed until now.
These “white elephants”, together with the RA 7171 funds, are cited as added sources of corruption in the locality.
According to the ISEM, the RA 7171 funds “has failed to uplift the lives of tobacco farmers and has enriched a handful of politicians, reinforced political dynasty, and sustained patronage politics in the province.”