22 August 2013

Environmentalists Join Public Fury vs. Pork Barrel Scam

(Courtesy of Cebu Daily News)

Environmentalists have joined the rising chorus of discontent and outrage over the multi-billion peso fraudulent use of congressional pork barrel allotments, or what is formally known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Amid the loudening pork barrel uproar, the EcoWaste Coalition pushed for the “3 Rs” to ferret out the truth about the humungous pillage of public funds and put the culprits behind bars.

By “3 Rs,” the group was not referring to the ecological mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle,” but to the urgent need to “reveal, rebuke and right” the wrongs of the controversy-ridden pork barrel funds.

“In view of the people’s outcry for truth and accountability, we ask President Aquino and his government to leave no stone unturned and ensure an impartial, speedy and transparent investigation of the scam that will reveal all facts no matter who gets hurt, rebuke the ills of the pork barrel system, and right the injustice by filing cases against all involved and sending thieves to jail,” said Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

Fugitive Janet Lim-Napoles, the trader at the center of the P10-billion pork barrel scandal and her ilk deserve to be tried and jailed for tainting the reputation of non-government organizations (NGOs) who are truly working for the betterment of the country, the environmentalists said.

The environmentalists bemoaned the billions of pesos wasted for ghost projects by bogus NGOs that should have been spent to improve people’s lives, including enforcing the country’s environmental laws.

“Just a fraction of the embezzled pork barrel funds could have been used to implement our major environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act,” said Von Hernandez, Executive Director, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, noting that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources always complains about lack of budget to fully enforce these laws.

The stolen money from PDAF, the environmentalists said, could have been used to implement ecological waste management and other environmental programs to address the nation’s chronic problems with garbage, pollution, flood and disease, including building community recycling and composting facilities as well as climate-resilient disaster evacuation centers.

Various environmentalists have expressed support for the abolition of the corruption-tainted pork barrel system, including Noli Abinales, Roy Alvarez, Betty Cabazares, Justino Cabazares, Jr., Manny Calonzo, Tita Castelo, Ines Fernandez, Von Hernandez, Romy Hidalgo, John Frederick Lauron, Atty. Amang Mejia, Dr. Helen Mendoza, Sonia Mendoza, Esther Pacheco, Rene Pineda, Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Vicky Segovia and Eileen Sison.

“In the same way that we campaign against wastes and toxics so too must we express our outrage at the wanton plunder of taxpayers’ money by the powers that be. As we advocate for a zero waste society, we add our voices to the mounting call for a government free from corruption and deceit,” stated Atty. Mejia.

“Our garbage woes are linked in a very real sense to the misuse and diversion of public funds to line the pockets of politicians and their cohorts. We demand an immediate investigation and prosecution of those involved in stealing the people’s money and a radical overhaul and reorientation, if not, outright abolition of the pork barrel system in order to ensure that it benefits the people and the environment and not just the unscrupulous politicos and their followers,” he added.

-end-

Additional Comments from Environmental Leaders re Pork Barrel Scam:

Roy Alvarez of Alaga Lahat: “Pag nawala ang pork, mawawala ang political dynasty, at tunay na public servant lang ang papasok sa pulitika. Malaking bawas sa pagnanakaw sa kaban ng bayan ang pagtatangal ng pork barrel.”

Eileen Sison of the Silang, Cavite-based Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives (IDEAS): “Dapat tanggalin ang pork barrel at dapat ayusin din ang proseso ng paggamit ng pondo ng mga taxpayer nang maging maayos ang pagplano, paglabas at pagbabantay nito. Kailangan
ang transparency of information sa bahagi ng pamahalaan at vigilance sa bahagi ng taumbayan.”

Betty Cabazares of the Davao City-based Kinaiyahan Foundation, quoting Brian Swimme (author of “The Universe Is a Green Dragon”): “Dirty mindscapes produce dirty landscapes; our quest for a clean government and environment will remain an uphill climb unless attitudes and values are changed.”

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