MANILA, July 1, 2011â€” Many Catholic institutions have long been asking for financial aid from a state-owned lottery agency for their social projects, a ranking prelate admitted.
This, Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo said, despite a collective decision among bishops not to ask or accept donations from legal and illegal gambling.
He said this practice can be traced from the record of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) from the time of the late President Corazon Aquino.
But the archbishop said these PCSO donations are intended for social services, poverty alleviation and socio-economic development.
To the list, he added requests for PCSOâ€™s help for medical treatment of those in extreme need and cannot afford the cost because of poverty.
According to him, even the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin himself received help from PCSO for his projects for the poor.
â€œEven if bishops might have collectively decided that no donation from legal and illegal gambling should be solicited or accepted, it would seem that this is not universally followed, given the case of social services for the poor cited above,â€ Quevedo said.
â€œThere is also the added consideration that according to moral theology gambling is not immoral per se, but only immoral depending on the circumstances,â€ he said.
This, the former president of the Catholic Bishopsâ€™ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said, is the reason that other Episcopal conferences in the world have not made any pronouncement against gambling.
â€œIn our case, one of the reasons for the CBCP’s decision not to solicit or accept donations from legal and illegal gambling is to help renew the cultural inclination towards gambling,â€ he said.
Quevedo was reacting to claims by PCSO chairman Margarita Juico that former President Gloria Arroyo used the agencyâ€™s funds as â€œdonationsâ€ to bishops in exchange for their support to her administration.
Juico said that Arroyo, now a Pampanga representative, had also given vehicles to some church officials at that time when there was a threat of her removal from office due to allegations of massive corruptions.
She also claimed that the â€œdonationsâ€ were aimed at dividing the bishops by getting majority of them on Arroyoâ€™s side.
Quevedo, Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos and two other priests were identified by the PCSO as recipients of the vehicles for their personal use.
Quevedo, however, strongly denied the allegations and urged the lottery agency to prove its claim with enough proof.
â€œI think the PCSO has to look into itself and have solid evidence for its allegations,â€ he said.
Quevedo also believed that there is a plot from the present administration to discredit the Church for criticizing the Aquino administration on several issues.
â€œI would like to reiterate: I have never requested or received from the PCSO any vehicle for my personal use, whether pajero or any other kind. The two vehicles I use are foreign Catholic grants,â€ he said. (CBCPNews)