Villegas to Filipinos: Don’t condemn alleged pork scammers

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MANILA, June 8, 2014 – Despite the temptation to do so, the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Pentecost Sunday called on Filipinos not to condemn those who have been charged with plunder over the multi-billion pork barrel scandal.

“As Christians we are exhorted to love at all times, even those who sin and err, for none of us is above human frailty,” Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a press statement.

University students, religious groups, and representatives from civil society and business sectors comprised the estimated 10,000 participants who joined the anti-pork rally in Cebu City last September 29. Organized by the Cebu Coalition Against the Pork Barrel System, the rally was Cebu’s call on the government to abolish the graft-ridden pork barrel system. (Photo courtesy: Joe Almerez)

“For those among us who are not accused, let us remember that the offenses with which those who now stand accused are charged could very well be the offense of any of us as well,” the prelate added.

Villegas made this statement following the indictment of Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles and five others in the Sandiganbayan for plunder over the illegal siphoning of public funds by dubious non government organizations.

“Who are we to condemn? Let the one who has no sin be the first to cast a stone,” he 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,” the CBCP president said.

‘Path of righteousness’

Villegas emphasized the need for those who are tasked to prosecute to “observe total commitment to the human rights of the accused” and those who have been charged to “deal with the full force of the law.”
“Everybody culpable, whatever their political affiliations may be, should be investigated and, if so warranted, indicted. When justice is selective, it is not justice at all,” he said.

Noting that a “vengeful action cannot be from God,” Villegas reminded the public not to act out of hatred or desire for vengeance.

“Let no action – official, personal or otherwise – be ever born out of hatred or a desire for vengeance,” he said.
“Let everything we do be born out of sincere love for each other and concern for the common good for only then will we be recognized as disciples of the Divine Master who searches out and rescues the lost and the weak,” Villegas added. (Jennifer M. Orillaza)

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