Religious leaders to PNoy: Repent or resign

Cardinal Tagle with President Benigno Aquino III (MNS Photo)

Cardinal Tagle with President Benigno Aquino III (MNS Photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — Hours before he is to deliver his State of the Nation Address, President Benigno Aquino III was told on Monday to either “repent or resign,” particularly over the controversy involving the Disbursement Acceleration Program.

Bishops of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines said the DAP had become a “path to betrayal of the public’s trust” and had severely damaged Aquino’s reputation, “destroying any semblance of fighting corruption.”

“President Aquino’s continuing insistence that he is trustworthy, and thus, somehow immune or justified in breaking the law runs counter to his supposed efforts to stop corruption and misuse of public funds. In a glaring manner, he has become every bit a violator himself. If President Aquino cannot bring himself to repent from his wrongdoings, his next best would be to resign from his office as President,” the bishops said in a statement.

Aquino is to deliver his fifth SONA before a joint session of Congress at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City on Monday afternoon.

Earlier this month, the SC announced that it has declared certain acts under the government’s DAP as unconstitutional, including the declaration of unobligated and unprogrammed funds as savings, the transfers of savings from one government branch to another, and the funding of projects not stated in the national budget.

Malacañang has repeatedly said that the DAP was undertaken in good faith to boost the country’s economic performance. Malacañang has since appealed the high court’s decision.

The President is also facing two impeachment complaints over the DAP.

In his continued defense of the DAP, Aquino even used principles from Filipino hero Apolinario Mabini to justify the controversial program. The President even rebuked the Supreme Court, which he said tried to transfer funds from one government branch to another.

Presidential pork barrel?

But the bishops said that by defending the DAP, Aquino ignored the people’s cries to end pork barrel politics, “particularly presidential Pork Barrel.”

He even tried to deflect attention towards the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam and projected himself as ferreting out corruption and bad practices.

“As evidence continued to be brought to light and the real score of the DAP was unearthed, President Aquino attempted to defend his misdoings as both correct and in good faith. Even with the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court that the implementation of the DAP violated the Constitution, President Aquino chose shallow defense of his misdeeds and thinly veiled threats towards the Supreme Court,” the UCCP bishops said.

The bishops accused Aquino of violating the check-and-balance system of the 1987 Constitution by “deceptively renaming allocated budgets as savings and using them for projects and purposes that had not undergone budget approval by the legislature.”

Worse, they said significant DAP funds “appear to have been channeled to favored patrons and cohorts at Aquino’s discretion as well as used for alleged bribes to senators to ensure the votes to impeach former Chief Justice Renato Corona.”

“President Aquino has obviously veered off any Daang Matuwid,” they added.

Insulting Christian sensibility

The UCCP bishops also branded as an insult to their Christian sensibility the administration’s insistence that DAP is a measure “to ensure that funds are properly used so that social services and public goods are delivered to the people—especially the poor—as swiftly as possible.”

“The truth remains that the poor have not experienced significant alleviation of their poverty and suffering; even more, reports inarguably bear out that a lion’s share of DAP spending was not for the poor. It is reprehensible that the poor are abused for such politicking and disinformation,” they said.

Last July 14, the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said that while President Aquino’s views on DAP are important and to be respected, it is the judiciary that has the job of interpreting the law and resolving justiciable issues.

CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the rule of law is a fundamental requirement that should be safeguarded as a moral concern. (MNS)

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