Wednesday 23 October, 2019

Phillips, church leaders meet to discuss corruption, crime

Dr Peter Phillips

Dr Peter Phillips

Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips met with church leaders to discuss alleged corruption in Government on Wednesday, a day before his People's National Party staged its anti-corruption vigil in Half-Way Tree against what it said was "unparalled corruption" in the Holness administration.

This was confirmed in a statement from the PNP on Friday.

According to the statement, the meeting was called to address the deterioration of traditional moral values and norms which lay beneath the indiscipline and criminality threatening to over-run communities and the country.

“The meeting agreed that the nation and its central moral principles were being challenged at every level. A national dialogue is urgently needed in order to define possible remedial action,” said Phillips.

“Additionally, the meeting explored a partnership which will seek to work with political and sector leaders with a clear view to contain the gross materialism which threatens to overrun the country,” Phillips added.

That partnership is a likely joint effort, which will seek to provide a new approach to the education and re-socialisation of the Jamaican people as there is reportedly an agreement that the process of economic and social reconstruction should be at the top of the national agenda going forward.

The PNP said the church leaders pledged their support to continue the dialogue while seeking to strengthen their programmes where applicable to aid the process.

Phillips said that church leaders also shared their own views on the matter and offered their suggestions for remedial action that would involve the church, schools, families and the wider communities.

Since the PNP’s anti-corruption vigil, a war of words has erupted between the PNP and the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) about which party is more corrupt.

The JLP has gone as far as to utilise several electronic billboard advertisements highlighting over 20 scandals that the PNP had been involved in over its more than two decades in government. 

The billboard, which hovers over Mandela Park in Half-Way Tree, the same spot where the PNP held its protest on Thursday morning, highlights such scandals as the Shell Waiver controversy which dates back to the early 1990s and which led to the resignation of then Finance Minister, later Prime Minister, PJ Patterson and PNP cabinet minister, Horace Clarke. 

Other advertisements read: ‘The most corrupt organisation in the history of the Caribbean and ‘the PNP is the party of scandals.’

However PNP Vice President Damion Crawford is hitting back. He said despite the claims by the JLP and their supporters that the PNP was also involved in the alleged thievery of public funds, nothing can compare to the level of alleged skulduggery that the present government has been accused of.

“There have been allegations against the PNP in the past, however none like this. I am standing as Damion Crawford and saying that if I was Minister of Education, this would have never have happened," he said.

That was a reference to the scandal at the Ministry of Education and some of its affiliated agencies - namely the Caribbean Maritime University and the National Education Trust - which led to the sacking of Senator Ruel Reid as Minister in March. 

Reid is now under a criminal probe.

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