MANILA - Calls for the abolition of the pork system have further snowballed, this time with the women sector led by former Senator Leticia Ramos Shahani group seeking for a Truth Commission to look deeper into the “systematic” problem of the country.
In a statement, The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) Foundation urged President Benigno Aquino III to appoint private individuals with unquestionable integrity, probity and independence to the Truth Commission.
“While we have faith in our investigative and prosecutorial agencies’ capacity to perform their duties with fidelity, we recognize that some administration officials and allies have been implicated in the scam, such that the integrity of the institutional processes at work in this matter have been called into question,” the group said.
They said the Truth Commission will look into the pork barrel system and how it “makes thievery of public funds possible.”
They said the commission will check the extent of the abuse and also “provide a set of recommendations for the reform of our political governance, budgeting, and fiscal administration systems.”
The group said it is about time that the system is abolished. They also asked for better transparency and accountability from the government.
They said the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill is, thus, paramount.
“We especially need a law that ensures and facilitates public access to government records and data, whereby people can meaningfully exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to information on matters of public concern,” TOWNS said.
The group also urged the people to be involved in seeking accountability from public officials.
“Educating ourselves, our families, and communities about the pork barrel system and its abuse is a critical step to taking action. Speaking up and joining rallies will break the silence that only emboldens those who steal our money. We can also organize ourselves as watchdogs at the local and national levels to raise government accountability and to ensure that public funds are properly spent for the public good,” the group said.
They said the exposes present an opportunity for the people to act as a nation and confront the systematic problems affecting governance.
“Let us use this opportunity to move forward by pushing for fundamental changes in the system and continuing the delicate task of nation-building together,” the group said.
Towns is composed of public servants, social activists, scientists, medical professionals, lawyers, artists, journalists, writers, educators and social entrepreneurs.
The other signatories include: former Education Secretary Mona Valisno, scientist Isabel Aleta, journalist Cecilia Lazaro, Dr. June Pagaduan Lopez, anti-crime advocate Teresita Ang See, and theater artist Monique Wilson.