(SPOT.ph) Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chair Margarita Juico has claimed that former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo allegedly used the agency’s funds to give seven Mitsubishi Pajeros to bishops a few months before she stepped down from office last year, reports the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
According to the report, Juico said giving "donations" to Church leaders became a standard practice since Arroyo was almost removed from office for the "Hello Garci" election cheating scandal six years ago. "She moved to divide the bishops by getting some of them on her side to ensure that the (Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines) would not have a unified stand on her," Juico told the Inquirer.
The Inquirer report also stated that Media Director of the CBCP Msgr. Pedro Quitorio said the Church took no part in receiving the supposed extravagant gifts from PCSO during Arroyo's term. The CBCP, which released a statement in 2005 articulating its policy that prohibits its members from soliciting or receiving funds from legal and illegal gambling, rallied on the bishops in question to come out. "If proven true that some bishops are on take, it could dent the credibility of the Church," said retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani in CBCPnew.com. Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz also said that the bishops' confession would spare other prelates from the controversy. "Whether this is proven by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) or not, they should come out. The truth will set you free," he said.
Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez is calling for the current administration to investigate claims of its predecessor's graft and corruption. "(Accusations like this are) no longer new so it would be better, with this information or allegations, for the present government to look into it seriously and take the necessary actions," Iñiguez said over Radyo Veritas.