CBCP head visits Napoles: 'Tell the whole truth'
MANILA, Philippines – Months after denouncing the pork barrel scandal, the head of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) visited its alleged mastermind, Janet Lim Napoles, and urged her to “tell the whole truth.”
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas met with Napoles on Monday, May 12, as the businesswoman is confined at the Ospital ng Makati for an operation on her uterus. (READ: Napoles doctors: Hospital confinement not needed)
Her family requested Villegas “for prayers and blessings for fast recovery,” the CBCP president said in a text message on Thursday, May 15.
Villegas said, “As a priest I went on Monday, May 12, but I told her the blessing will only give healing if she tells the whole truth without being selective.”
“I prayed that she may take courage to tell all she knows. Do not be afraid of the truth,” he added.
His visit came at the height of reports on the so-called Napoles lists, which implicate a number of lawmakers in the Philippines' biggest corruption scandal in recent history. (READ: How credible is Janet Napoles?)
'Strengthens clutch to power'
Villegas, a protégé of the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, has criticized the pork barrel system itself. (READ: 'Man does not need pork to go with bread')
In a pastoral statement in July, Villegas said the pork barrel, or Priority Development Asssistance Fund (PDAF), “in theory... is pro-poor and pro-marginalized.”
The prelate said: "In reality, however, the pork barrel has been used by some elected representatives in Congress to prove to their constituents that they are concretely doing something for their welfare. In fact, it is not uncommon to refer to projects funded from the pork barrel fund as 'Projects of Congressman X' giving the impression that this is personal money and not public fund. Epal has become so common that some of us are not disturbed by those billboards anymore.”
“In many instances, the pork barrel has become like a 'discretionary fund' of elected Representatives. In theory, it is for the development of the poor and the far. In reality, it has served to strengthen the clutch of politicians to power,” he also told his archdiocese.
In another statement, his first as CBCP president, he also cited the pork barrel scandal in condemning corruption-ridden politics as “perhaps the single-biggest obstacle in our integral development as a nation.”
“It is now clear that our people are poor because our leaders have kept them poor by their greed for money and power,” the Catholic leader said. – Rappler.com