With millions of Filipinos living below poverty line and children dying of malnutrition and disease, it’s shocking to read news stories like this:
Lay Catholic group raises P2.7 million to buy vehicles for bishops
MANILA, Philippines – A lay Catholic group led by former Manila mayor Lito Atienza and election lawyer Romulo Macalintal yesterday said they have already raised P2.7 million and have donated utility vehicles to at least three Catholic bishops.
CBCPNews, the official news service provider of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said Macalintal revealed that the money was used to purchase four Foton pickup trucks.
Television host Willie Revillame has also donated P100,000 with a van and another pickup truck.
The Diocese of Butuan under Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos, who was highly criticized for asking former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for a car for his birthday, received the van from Revillame.
Other personalities who gave money to the fund drive were Senators Vicente Sotto III (P200,000), Francis Escudero (P100,000), and Bong Revilla and his wife, Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla, (P200,000). [Source: Philstar.com]
This reminds me of the song “Everything’s Alright” from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. The scene is based on John 12:3-8 where Mary Magdalene used her expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet. Judas was indignant:
Woman your fine ointment, brand new and expensive
Should have been saved for the poor.
Why has it been wasted? We could have raised maybe
Three hundred silver pieces or more.
People who are hungry, people who are starving
Matter more than your feet and hair!
But then Jesus tried to justify Mary’s extravagance:
Surely you’re not saying we have the resources
To save the poor from their lot?
There will be poor always, pathetically struggling
Look at the good things you’ve got
Think while you still have me!
Move while you still see me!
You’ll be lost, and you’ll be so sorry when I’m gone.
Could this be how Macalintal and Atienza as well as Willie Revillame, Tito Sotto, Chiz Escudero and Bong Revilla rationalize the fund-raising campaign to match the amount donated by the PCSO for the purchase of the vehicles which were eventually returned? Do the bishops’ comfort and luxury matter more than the people who are hungry and starving? Are they completely oblivious to the fact that various Catholic entities in the Philippines have literally billions in assets that could buy all the SUVs the bishops want and actually save the poor from their lot—or at least feed all the severely hungry Filipinos for almost a year?
There will always be poor people indeed and charity can only do so much to help them, but do the bishops deserve to be treated and pampered like Jesus? Should we be grateful that we still have them? Will we be lost and sorry when they’re gone?
Macalintal and Atienza seem to think so because when the bishops were stripped of their rides they scrambled to raise money for the replacement of such vehicles. They’re almost like Mary Magdalene singing to Jesus:
Try not to get worried, try not to turn on to
Problems that upset you, oh.
Don’t you know
Everything’s alright, yes, everything’s fine.
Yes, everything’s alright. We’ll give you another fleet of brand-new cars so don’t be upset about returning those vehicles to the PCSO.
But I think one bishop will be upset, and that is Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos of Butuan. His Mistubushi Montero was replaced with a van, when he specifically asked for “a brand-new car, possibly a 4×4” from GMA for his birthday.