Bishops to return luxury vehicles to PCSO
The seven prelates figuring in the ‘Pajero bishops’ scandal have agreed to return the vehicles they received from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
Archbishop Orlando Quevedo of the Archdiocese of Cotabato read the statement from the bishops before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee which said, “Regardless of whether the acquisition of vehicles are lawful or unlawful, constitutional or unconstitutional, we are returning the vehicles.”
Four vehicles from Luzon were already parked outside the Senate building in Pasay City, while those in Mindanao will be surrendered to a duly authorized PCSO representative.
The bishops who received vehicles from PCSO during Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration were Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos of Butuan City, Bishop Rodolfo Beltran of Bontoc-Lagawe, Bishop Leopoldo Jaucian of Abra, Quevedo, Bishop Martin Jumoad of Basilan, Archbishop Romulo Valles of Zamboanga, and Archbishop Ernesto Salgado of Nueva Segovia.
“We are from the provinces that have some of the most difficult areas that we, as bishop, have to reach. Most of us are from calamity- or conflict-stricken areas. We serve communities with some of the poorest of the poor. Our vocation is to help them in so far as we can with our resources. When we lack resources, we seek the assistance from others,” Quevedo said.
The luxury vehicles were reportedly used for various community programs and as service vehicles for bishops and priests.
“My actions have been misconstrued . . . cast a shadow of uncertainty on my dignity and moral ascendancy as a bishop,” Pueblos said.
Although some senators have urged the bishops to reconsider their decision to return the vehicles due to their use for religious activities and charity work, Quevedo insisted that they would no longer accept the vehicles even if the PCSO would not take them back.
Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile said that this controversy “stemmed from a wrong appreciation of the command of the Constitution.”
“The responsibility, the prohibition, is not on the receiver of the grant but imposed by the Constitution on the agencies of government . . . to see to it that public funds and public property are not given or used principally for religious purposes,” Enrile said.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago likewise said that the bishops should not be held liable for the grant, and that there was no Constitutional violation on their part. Santiago said that the purpose was for charity and that “the government should not be embarassed by its activities simply because of incidental results.”
Here are some interesting reactions in Twitter
News Via Philippine Online Chronicles.