MANILA, June 21, 2014 — Amidst the confusion caused by varying opinions on the issue, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Friday made clear that it has not demanded a public apology from individuals allegedly involved in the multibillion peso pork barrel scandal.
“As President of CBCP, I wish to inform the public that the CBCP has never demanded a public apology of those indicted in connection with the PDAF issue,” said Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the CBCP.
“I ask the public not to confuse the personal opinions of individual bishops with that of the CBCP,” he added.
Villegas made the statement days after CBCP executive secretary Fr. Edu Gariguez said in an interview that senators charged with plunder “should seek forgiveness from the people [who voted for them] and return the money they stole [from the national coffers].”
“It’s not only the sense of shame but they also seem to lack conscience. We have come to a point that our politicians are no longer bothered by their conscience and their only goal is not to get caught by using anything at their disposal,” Gariguez was quoted as saying.
Villegas noted that it is not up to the collegial body of Filipino bishops to determine the accountability of those who are accused of plunder on a judicial standpoint.
“It is for the judiciary to determine guilt or innocence on the basis of law and evidence. The CBCP prays that justice be our common goal and conversion our common endeavor,” he said.
Last June 6, Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles and five others were indicted in the Sandiganbayan for plunder over the alleged siphoning of state anti-poverty and development funds.
In an earlier statement, the CBCP president called on Filipinos not to condemn those who are allegedly involved in the multi-billion peso pork barrel controversy, and instead push for conversion and renewal.
“Who are we to condemn? Let the one who has no sin be the first to cast a stone,” Villegas said.
“We embrace all who have wronged society as our brothers and sisters and continue to pray, that as God’s people, we may all walk the path of conversion and renewal,” he added. (Jennifer M. Orillaza)