MANILA, August 24, 2011— At least three Catholic bishops were the beneficiaries of utility vehicles bought from money raised by a group of Catholics.
The group led by lawyer Romulo Macalintal and former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza were able to raised P2.7 million in around two months.
The fund raising drive was launched last July to provide utility vehicles for seven prelates who were criticized earlier for receiving cars from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office during the Arroyo administration.
Macalintal said the money was used to purchase four Foton pick-up trucks while television host Willie Revillame has also donated P100,000 with a van and another pick-up truck.
“The drive was a success and we thank everyone for their help. Catholics from all walks of life?from the rich to the poor—responded to our call,” he said.
One pick-up truck, Macalintal said, was already donated to the Diocese of Bontoc-Lagawe headed by Bishop Rodolfo Beltran.
The Diocese of Butuan under Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos, who was highly criticized for asking former President Gloria Arroyo for a car as birthday gift for him, received the van from Revillame.
Tabuk Bishop Prudencio Andaya also received a pick-up truck for his diocese’s social action programs although he was not implicated in the so called “PCSO fund mess.”
“The Foton pick-up trucks were worth P800,000 but we were able to get a big discount. We also asked Toyota and Mitsubishi but their pick-up trucks were worth P1.6 million,” he added.
Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, meanwhile, declined the donation, saying that it should be given to poor dioceses in need of vehicles instead, Macalintal said.
Other prelates implicated in the controversy were Archbishops Romulo Valles of Zamboanga and Ernesto Salgado of Nueva Segovia and Bishops Martin Jumoad of Basilan and Leopoldo Jaucian of Bangued.
Valles, Salgado and Jumoad, however, are still waiting for word from Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, the incoming president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, if they should receive the vehicles.
Juacian earlier received a car donated by his Filipino-Chinese parishioners to reach the remote areas under his pastoral jurisdiction.
Other personalities who gave money to the fund drive were Senators Vicente Sotto III (who gave P200,000), Francis Escudero (P100,000), and Bong Revilla and his wife, Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla, (P200,000).
“Not a single cent was deducted from the fund to pay for incidental expenses like our meetings and so on. The P2.7 million is the gross amount,” Macalintal said. [CBCPNews]