PCSO scandal aimed at weakening Church on RH bill—analyst

Posted By: Chris On:

MANILA, July 17, 2011 — Speculation is growing that the recent media storm regarding donations given by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to Catholic bishops was orchestrated in order to weaken the Church’s influence in the debate over the Reproductive Health (RH) bill.

Renowned journalist and political analyst Belinda Olivares-Cunanan, in an article published July 13 in her website “Political Tidbits,” was the latest to connect the current controversy with the opposition of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to the RH bill.

Cunanan, borrowing an expression from Emil Jurado of Manila Standard Today, called the bishops “‘collateral damage’ in the controversy,” and added that “the PCSO had aimed to weaken them in the fight over the RH bill.”

Cunanan’s article came shortly after the Senate hearings on the PCSO scandal had cleared the so-called “Pajero bishops” of breaking any laws.

Before the hearing, the bishops returned four of the vehicles that they had bought using PCSO funds. None of the vehicles were Pajeros, leading the Senators to grill PCSO chair Margie Juico on how the prelates got tagged as “Pajero bishops” in the mass media.

Prior to the hearing itself, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago had asserted that a well-placed PR man may have been behind the tag.

Cunanan, however, was not the first to point out the connection. Philippine Daily Inquirer, in an article published last week, quoted former PCSO Chairman Manuel Morato as saying about the bishops that “it’s like they’ve been made the target of a ‘project’ to tie their hands on the RH issue.”

Although Malacanang has denied that the PCSO expose has anything to do with the RH bill, the bill’s supporters have been among the most vocal in exploiting the scandal to diminish the bishops’ credibility. (Carlos Antonio Palad)


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