MANILA, Jan 19 (Mabuhay) — The Philippine government is already working on Pope Francis’ call against corruption and poverty even before the papal visit, President Benigno Aquino III said Monday.
In an interview after the Pope’s departure from Pasay City, Aquino said combating corruption has been his administration’s goal “since day one.”
Aquino, however, admitted that corruption still occurs under his watch, and that some corrupt officials still need to be held liable.
“Hindi tayo humihinto. Kailangan lang nating daanin nga sa tamang proseso, dahil may kasabihan nga ‘yon talagang sukatan ng demokrasya ay hindi ‘yung pagtatanggol mo ng karapatan ng kaibigan mo pero lalo ng kaaway mo,” the President, who won on an anti-corruption platform, said.
“Nagpapatuloy ng corruption. Siyempre, kaaway natin ‘yan, pero importante idaan natin sa tamang proseso para lahat ay nasa lugar at nasa katotohanan,” he added.
During his courtesy call on Aquino in Malacañang on Friday, Pope Francis challenged politicians to “reject every form of corruption which diverts resources from the poor.”
The Pope’s statement came at a time when Philippine officials, including Vice President Jejomar Binay and three senators, are facing allegations of pocketing government funds.
Throughout his five-day Philippine trip, Pope Francis repeatedly stressed the need to help the poor and the marginalized.
Aquino, for his part, said his administration is also addressing poverty, primarily through the conditional cash transfer or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4 Ps).
He however maintained that the effects of the government’s anti-poverty programs cannot be immediately felt by poor Filipinos.
“Lalo ng mararamdaman iyan kapag natamasa na natin ‘yung biyaya ‘nung lahat ng mga proyekto tulad ‘nung 4Ps na siyempre pag-aaral. Medyo hindi madadama overnight ‘yung resulta ‘non pero patungo tayo doon,” he said.
Although poverty incidence in the Philippines was lower last year, almost a fourth of the over 100 million Filipinos remain poor, based on latest government data. (MNS)