MANILA, July 1, 2011â€” If it is wrong for faith leaders to take donations from a state-owned lottery agency, why single out the Catholic Church?
A ranking Catholic archbishop has challenged the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to identify other religious groups who received financial aid from the agency.
â€œIf thereâ€™s malice in those donations to Catholic bishops, the PCSO must also identify all the other recipients from other Churches,â€ Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla said.
Capalla, a former president of the Catholic Bishopsâ€™ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said he is saddened over the â€œunfairâ€ treatment of PCSO to bishops on the issue.
After all, he said, PCSO donations to Catholic institutions were used for relief efforts and social programs on poverty alleviation and health.
â€œI donâ€™t know why they take it just on Catholic bishops and make it appear as scandalous,â€ said Capalla.
â€œThis is unfair. I challenged them to show the records, the real records and not the twisted ones,â€ he said.
Many bishops have recently been critical to the Aquino administration on several issues especially on its position on the reproductive health (RH) bill.
â€œThey must have some reasons for doing it. I donâ€™t know what it is but they are really giving us priests a bad image,â€ Capalla said.
But some bishops view the recent controversy as a way to discredit not just some bishops but the Catholic hierarchy as a whole.
â€œTo destroy the credibility of the bishops is really their main intention,â€ said Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles. â€œBut weâ€™re not afraid of it.â€
The bishops was reacting to allegations by PCSO chairman Margarita Juico that former President Arroyo, now a Pampanga representative, used the agencyâ€™s funds for political patronage.
Arroyo, she said, had also given vehicles to some bishops and priests at that time when she was facing a threat of removal from office due to allegations of corruption.
The PCSO said the agencyâ€™s former board approved the grant of SUVs to Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos, Msgr. Augusto Laban of Sorsogon and Fr. Roger Lood of Iligan City.
The request of Lood was reportedly coursed through Archbishop Capalla, who endorsed the letter to Arroyo 2009.
The former CBCP head said the PCSO called him up last Wednesday and informed him of the paper the agency found about his endorsement of Loodâ€™s project for alcoholics.
Capalla said he did endorse Loodâ€™s proposed project for possible funding, â€œbut I didnâ€™t know if it was approved or not.â€
He admitted telling Lood to ask for assistance from PCSO because â€œit is a charitable institution and helping the poor.â€
His endorsement of Loodâ€™s proposed project, said Capalla, may have been the reason his name came out in the SUV issue.
Iligan Bishop already said that Lood never received any vehicle from the PCSO and that the priest failed to get any support for his project.
Quevedo, also a former CBCP president, also denied receiving vehicle from PCSO and said he is willing to undergo investigation. (CBCPNews)