Senator to UP grads: Help fight corruption-A A +A
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
CEBU CITY - Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago told graduates of the University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu on Wednesday to help combat corruption in the government.
The senator, known for her feisty and humorous speeches, drew cheers and laughter from the graduates as she talked about the pork barrel scam, the role of UP graduates, the meaning of life, and God for almost 20 minutes.
She lamented the slow progress in the investigation of the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (Pdaf) scam and criticized officials whom she accused of resorting to propaganda to be in the spotlight.
“I trust that UP graduates, after four years of the most rigorous educational discipline in the country, will...see through the machinations of the crooks in the government,” she said in her speech at UP Cebu's 77th commencement exercises, held in the campus Wednesday afternoon.
Later in a press conference, Santiago said she will not be surprised if all legislators, including her, would be implicated in the scam to confuse the public.
Pork to LGUs
She said all projects funded through her Pdaf, also known as pork barrel, were implemented by local government units.
The scam was uncovered after the Commission on Audit noticed that some legislators channeled portions of their PDAF to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs).
Santiago said she never gave funds to NGOs because she believes that NGOs should not rely on government funding to implement their projects.
Addressing the 251 graduates, whom she called “full-fledged members of the intellectual elite of Philippine society,” Santiago said corruption should be stopped because it “threatens the core of democratic values.”
She said helping fight corruption is a moral obligation of the graduates. “We demand that government be accountable and political processes should be honest,” she said.
When asked if she had plans to run again for president, Miriam said: “If all the crooks involved in the pork barrel scam are brought to court, I might consider running for president.”
Santiago asked the graduates to pursue goals not only for themselves and their family, but for the country as well.
“You have a moral obligation to this society that has been so good to you to make sure that you leave your footprint in the sands of our time,” she said.
As in past graduation rites, some students and faculty members held a rally to raise their concerns. They called for greater state spending on education, jobs for all, national industrialization and an end to contractualization in the labor sector, among others.
They also asked the graduates to remember Kristel Tejada, the 16-year-old student at the UP Manila who committed suicide after not being able to enroll because of her failure to pay for the previous semester's tuition.
UP Cebu Dean Liza Corro, in an interview, called the graduates “resilient” for surpassing the challenges brought about by last year's calamities and the conflict inside the campus during the administration of the ousted dean Enrique Avila.
“They've been through a lot, and they made it,” she told Sun.Star Cebu.
In her welcome remarks, she told the graduates: “Strive always for your continual improvement for the real world is now your laboratory where you can experiment to test the theories you have learned here.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 01, 2014.