Pork barrel scandal dents PH reform image, says competitiveness body co-chair
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MANILA - A multi-billion peso scandal that lines the pockets of politicians by funneling public funds into private organizations “negates the Philippines’ reputation and credibility,” a prominent business executive said on Monday.
Guillermo Luz, the private sector co-chairman of the National Competitiveness Council, made these remarks on Monday while attending an anti-pork barrel rally at Luneta Park.
The scandal involving senators and members of the House “negates everything in so many ways, including our reputation, our credibility, and our image,” Luz told InterAksyon.com.
“No one will take the Philippines seriously as anti-corruption or a reform-backed administration if we let this situation go. We really need to fix this,” said Luz, who attended the Luneta rally.
A former executive director of the Makati Business Club, Luz said the Department of Justice has to prosecute not only Jeanette Napoles – the alleged conduit of politicians to funnel public funds into non-government organizations (NGOs) – but also the non-profit organizations themselves.
“A cursory check with the Securities and Exchange Commission of all the boards of trustees of the NGOs will find out whether their records are updated. A [Bureau of Internal Revenue] check will find out whether they filed their income tax returns and financial statements, a requirement for non-stock, non-profits. They should be investigated for any violation in that regard,” Luz said.
Since pork barrel funds are just one percent of the Philippines’ annual appropriations, Luz said Filipinos should channel their energies to analyzing the remaining 99 percent of the national budget.
“Beyond rallies, I think we need to embed this sentiment in a change of policy and law. That’s the only way to make this permanent. A rally is a good start,” he said.
He however refused to say whether or not he favors the abolition of pork barrel funds.