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article imagePH Catholic Bishops return vehicles purchased from state funds

By Leo Reyes     Jul 13, 2011 in Politics
At least six Catholic bishops who received service vehicles purchased out of government funds have decided to return them to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), the government agency that released the funds.
The bishops came under fire after government audit reports show payments were released by PCSO officials to the bishops for the purchase of the vehicles during the term of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
One of the bishops reportedly solicited the vehicle from the president as birthday gift to him while others said the vehicles were intended for use in their charity work.
The senate blue ribbon committee invited the bishops to an inquiry in aid of legislation following the senate inquiry on the indiscriminate use of P300 million intelligence funds by former PCSO officials.
The bishops explained to the blue ribbon committed that the vehicles in question were being used in far flung places where they extend charity work for the country's poorest families who need basic services.
Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI, of the Archdiocese of Cotabato said the vehicle issue has confused the public and the Catholic faithful as well.
“We express our sadness that our sincere desire to help people and receive necessary assistance for doing so has confused, disturbed, and even scandalized many of the Catholic faithful,” Quevedo said.
“For this reason, regardless of whether the acquisition of the vehicles has been lawful or unlawful, constitutional or unconstitutional, we are returning the vehicles,” he added.
At least four senators said the bishops can keep the vehicles after finding out that they were being used in the pursuit of their charity work.
“We really want the bishops to keep the vehicles but if they really insist (on returning them), then the PCSO has no choice but to accept them back,” Jose Ferdinand Rojas II, PCSO general manager, said.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, and Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada have also told the bishops to keep the vehicles
But the bishops said they already made a decision to return all the vehicles in question.
The Commission on Audit (COA) has intensified its efforts in the investigation of anomalies in various government institutions during the term of President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo. And one of the major discoveries in the on-going investigations is the highly-criticized donation to the Catholic church.
More about Bishops, Catholic Church, Charity, Vehicles, Graft and corruption
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