Tag Archive | "Bantay Bishop"

Blessed are the Poor, said the Billionaire Bishops

Every night, millions of poor Filipinos pray that when they wake up, they’d no longer be poor. Answering these prayers would take nothing short of a miracle. And a miracle, by definition, is highly improbable; just witnessing one is considered a blessing by many.

But a miracle might just be what Romulo Macalintal has performed. Together with Lito Atienza, Macalintal led a campaign to replace the vehicles returned by Catholic bishops in the wake of the recent PCSO scandal. In less than two weeks of fundraising, donations exceeded a million pesos.

But it’s not the amount of donations that I consider miraculous. Nor is it the fact that they were collected in less than half a month. The fact that Macalintal managed to convince so many that the bishops needed money — now that’s a miracle.

Because as friend and fellow RH advocate Elizabeth Angsioco pointed out, the bishops are filthy rich:

Based on Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) 7 July 2011 records, their holdings in these corporations are now worth a whopping P18,040,238,371.80.

There are a few more minor holdings that are not included here and many more corporations can be examined. Even without touching the RCC’s real estate properties (which are surely worth many billions), and its highly profitable businesses like schools and hospitals, it is quite clear that the RCC as a church, as well as its various entities are FILTHY RICH.

What 18 billion can buy

18 billion Pesos. That’s 18 thousand pesos multiplied by a million. Or 18 million pesos multiplied by a thousand. No matter how I put it, few Filipinos can fathom what it means to have such a huge amount. Maybe it will be easier to understand in terms of what the bishops can buy with all that money.

Consider the Araneta Coliseum. It can hold 15 to 16 thousand people. Picture every seat in every row occupied by a person, from ringside to general admission. With 18 billion pesos, the Catholic bishops can afford to give every person in a packed Araneta Coliseum their own SUV[1]. To be exact, the bishops can buy 15,272 SUVs[2].

If the bishops can afford this much, why did they have to ask PCSO for SUVs? Whatever the reason, it wouldn’t be the only time a bishop asked for something he could have paid for himself.

In Cagayan, the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao asked PCSO for money to pay for the operational expenses of a retirement home for priests. The PCSO gave them P200,000 plus an unknown amount for “finishing touches” on the renovation of the said retirement home. Forget about the fact that this is a clear violation of our Constitution and PCSO’s charter and consider this: Although P200,000 is no small amount, it’s nothing compared to the more than P100 million pesos the Bishop of Tuguegarao has invested in San Miguel and Ayala. With that P100+ million, the bishop could pay for the operation of 500 retirement homes, and he’d still have several million left.

Anyone can use a calculator and plug in the values, but I think there’s something wrong with Atienza’s arithmetic:

“We can do this quickly. If 8,000 Catholics donate P1,000, we could have the P8 million. If 16,000 give P500 or 32,000 donate P250, we could also reach that amount,” said Atienza

Atienza, who helped launch the Piso Para sa Obispo campaign in Cebu, can do the Math. But there’s something wrong when you divide the burden of raising P8 million among poorer people, especially when the beneficiary can afford to give P8 million each to 2,250 people (18B/8M).

The sin of obscene wealth

Surely if there’s anyone that should be doing the donating, it’s the Catholic bishops. Instead, they keep their billions invested where all it does is make the bishops even more rich. Angsioco discovered that from May to July of this year, the value of the bishops’ investments appreciated by P567 million. When Atienza said you can be sure that what you give to the church comes back to you (“Kapag nagbigay ka naman kasi sa simbahan, alam mong babalik din sa iyo”), he might have been referring to the stock market.

And while the billionaire bishops become even richer, millions remain poor and hungry. An organization that claims moral ascendancy should find something wrong with this picture, especially one that calls itself pro poor. Apparently it’s not only wrong — it’s a mortal sin:

The Vatican has revised the traditional Catholic “Seven Deadly Sins” with new ones, including “being obscenely wealthy.” Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, announced the new sins in an interview published on March 10, 2008, in LOsservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper… Bishop Girotti explained that the sin of obscene wealth consists of “the excessive accumulation of wealth by a few.”

Are the billionaire bishops guilty of “excessive accumulation of wealth by a few”? When a few people have enough money to give SUVs to 15,272 people, the answer is obvious. And the bishops owe society a lot. Obviously, I’m not suggesting that the bishops start giving away Pajeros. All I’m saying is that if you’re really pro-poor, you should be the ones giving to the poor, not the other way around. The question is, Have the bishops accumulated wealth so that they could be pro-poor? Or have they pretended to be pro-poor so that they could accumulate wealth?

The problem of evil

Anyway, let’s correct Atienza’s Mathematical mistake and see how much we can divide the bishops’ P18 billion among the people who really need it. According to a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, 15.1 percent of Filipinos (14.2 million) are hungry and 2 percent of Filipinos (around 1.88 million) are severely hungry, having nothing to eat often or always. The billionaire bishops can feed all hungry Filipinos for more than a month. If they chose to help only the 1.88 million who are severely hungry, the bishops can provide food for more than nine months [3].

The billionaire bishops are in a position to perform a real miracle in the Philippines. For more than a month, they can end hunger; for almost one year, they can put an end to severe hunger. The bishops are able. But as Epicurus asked in his early formulation of the problem of evil, “Are the bishops able but not willing?”


Assuming the average price of the 7 vehicles given to the bishops

P18B = value of stocks owned by CBCP and other Catholic organizations
Cost of 7 SUVs (Sacred Utility Vehicle) given to bishops = P8.25M
P18B / P8.25M x 7 = 15272.72727

Population of the Philippines = 94M
94M x .151 = 14.2M = hungry Filipinos
94M x .02 = 1.88M = severely hungry Filipinos
P974 = how much a Filipino needed in 2009 to meet his/her monthly food needs according to the National Statistical Coordination Board
P974 x 1.88M = P1.83B = amount needed to feed severely hungry Filipinos for a month
P18B / P1.83B/mth = 9.83 months = months the bishops can afford to feed severely hungry Filipinos
P974 x 14.2M  = P13.83B = amount needed to feed hungry Filipinos

Posted in Featured, Politics, Religion, SocietyComments (16)

[Press Release] Filipino Freethinkers remind PNoy to pass RH and avoid GMA’s mistakes at Purple Ribbon RH March

(July 22, 2010) Manila – Filipino Freethinkers marched to Mendiola and Malacañang with other RH advocates from the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) and other pro-RH organizations.

One of their members dressed as ex-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA), pulling behind her seven huge PCSO checks. Each check was carried by a member dressed in a bishop costume. The recipients and amounts listed in the checks are based on the details of the recent PCSO scandal, wherein 7 Catholic bishops were given PCSO donations approved by GMA.

“We want to warn PNoy not to commit the same mistakes of the past president,” said Kenneth Keng, RH advocacy director of Filipino Freethinkers. “GMA bought the bishops’ silence during the Hello Garci scandal by blocking the passage of the RH Bill during her term. The recently exposed PCSO donations to several bishops are only the tip of the iceberg. There may be more bribes that have yet to
be uncovered.”

Filipino Freethinkers also echoed the call for PNoy to clearly support RH during his upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA). Keng said: “It is our hope that showing the President the broad based majority support that the most recent SWS surveys confirmed (70% of filipinos nationwide in favor of the RH Bill) and the dire consequences of delay in terms of innocent lives lost (100,000 maternal and infant deaths and 4,000,000 abortions since a vocal minority of religious opposition began opposing the bill 10 years ago) can enjoin him ahead of his upcoming State of the Nation address to take action in making the priority passage of the RH Bill this year a reality.

“We want to remind PNoy to fulfil his promise to provide RH for all,” said Keng. “He has unequivocally given his support to the RH Bill in public fora such as the recent UP commencement address. We’re here to celebrate this new promise while gently reminding him of the need to help push the Bill past all of the shameless, underhanded and undemocratic stalling tactics of groups led by the CBCP in both houses of Congress”

# # #
If you’d like more information about this, or to schedule an interview with Kenneth Keng, please contact us
or send an email to [email protected].

Posted in Featured, Politics, Press Releases, Religion, SocietyComments (5)

The Top 10 List – Tips on Writing the Perfect “Non-Apology” Apology Letter

A public apology can make or break public sentiments towards well known public figures, be they philandering spouses caught with their pants down, corrupt officials caught with their hands in the cookie jar, or like in recent news… sneaky little clerics asking for special gifts from the President.

I'm soweeee!

An apology can elicit sympathy… or expose you for the creepy little rat that you are. Thus, scripting the perfect apology letter has become something of an art-form. In typical pinoy fashion, the best technique is to go for all-out drama. Take a cue from old-school Nora Aunor movies… shed a few melodramatic crocodile tears and utter the immortal phrase “kung kasalanan ang magmahal, then… I… AM… GUILTY.”


[Image from TreseKomix.blogspot.com / get your copy now!]



So with a little bit of theatrical sleight-of-hand, you have turned from perpetrator to martyr,  transforming actual crime into a “crime of passion”. Suddenly, the only thing you’re guilty of is loving too much or helping too much. Bravo! The crowd applauses and you are guaranteed a FAMAS award for best dramatic performance.


So now you know the power of a good apology. So to help all you aspiring apologists out there caught red-handed and eager to turn the tides of public sympathy, here’s the:





  1. Apologize about everything except the crime you’re actually charged with. This is an apology letter, not a confession. Knowing the difference means this could never be used as court evidence as an admission of guilt. So what do you actually apologize about? That’s where Tip#2 comes in…
  2.  Apologize profusely for all the “sorrow” this incident has caused the general public. (even though it’s not actually sorrow the general public feels, its DISGUST). Apologize to your constituents, family and loved ones too. (again, even if its not sorrow they’re actually feeling, its actually closer to SHAME). Express your regret over the whole matter but be vague on exactly what it is you regret (people don’t want to hear that you regret getting caught).
  3. Garner sympathy by mentioning how much the incident has affected you personally. Recount the sleepless nights,  loss of appetite, and stress-induced wrinkles it has caused you. Make it look like you are hurting more from your crimes that even the victims themselves.
  4. Emphasize how deeply spiritual and religious you are. Invoke the name of God frequently (don’t worry, this doesn’t count as taking the Lord’s name in vain because it’s for a good cause). Make sure you mention over and over again how much you prayed for guidance. Quote a few bible passages with themes on forgiveness and redemption.
  5. Justify any previous attempts at cover-ups and intentional misdirection as unfortunate side effects of your clumsy attempts to protect your loved ones or those close to you from any collateral damage. It’s totally a SELFLESS act.
  6. Explain to people how difficult and stressful your job is, causing you to have the occasional lapse in judgment. You have so many balls to juggle that you are sometimes put into compromising situations. Your work is the most horrible, thankless job in the world and your critics don’t understand how terribly pressured you are. Those ungrateful wretches should be thankful that you’re even sticking around.
  7. Remind everyone of the virtue of forgiveness. Sprinkle words like “repentance“ and  “atonement” liberally. While on the subject of penance, don’t elaborate on exactly how you plan to do it. Leave it to people’s imaginations (or better yet, their short attention span). Never ever bring up the issue of punishment. Instead, segue straight into the future, where you hope to “build a brighter future for everyone.”
  8. Invoke justice and due process. Justice is not about you being punished for your crimes, it’s about you being protected from public scrutiny until proven guilty beyond any shadow of doubt. Due process is all about being completely innocent until completely proven guilty. Until then, you have complete immunity from criticism. If someone from the media or even the public condemns you for your actions, reprimand them for jumping the gun.
  9. Thank the people for all their love, understanding, and support. It doesn’t matter if there isn’t actually any… just thank them. That way, they’ll look like heartless bastards if they don’t actually show any sympathy towards you after you’ve profusely thanked them in advance.
  10. Turn this into a “lesson” for everyone. It’s not about you or the shameless crimes you’ve committed, it’s about the wisdom gleaned from all this. This is all merely a test from God. Sometimes, it’s tough being the instrument of God’s teachings. But with everyone’s unconditional support, we all learn a valuable life lesson today.



So hopefully after you’ve followed all these tips, you can come up with your very own soul-stirring, heart-wrenching “non-apology” apology letter guaranteed to evoke sympathy from even your most cynical critics.  If you’ve done it correctly, you’ll soon be swimming in high praise from everyone for your “humility” and “contrite heart“. Good luck crawling your way out of whatever mess you got yourself into.



Need a few good examples of a good “non-apology” apology letter? Take a cue from the Catholic Bishop’s conference letter, “A Time of Pain, A Time of Grace”.

Our Dear People of God,

Our Mother Church has been deeply wounded by the controversies in the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office that have erupted in the past two weeks. Some members of the Church believe in the innocence of the bishops involved in the issue, while others do not. There is no doubt that everywhere in the Church there is great sorrow. We your pastors are one with you. As shepherds struggling to love you like Jesus the Good Shepherd, we are sorry for the pain and sadness that these events have brought upon you.

 We are saddened that many of you, especially the youth, the poor, our Basic Ecclesial Communities, have been confused because of the apparent inconsistency of our actions with our pastoral preaching.

 As we express our sadness, we also ask you to be slow in judgment and to conscientiously seek the whole truth behind the controversy. Let us seek the truth always in charity.

 We assure you that the bishops concerned are ready to accept responsibility for their action and to face the consequences if it would be proven unlawful, anomalous, and unconstitutional. We assure you that their action was done without malice. Out of their sincere desire to help their people, they failed to consider the pitfalls to which these grants could possibly lead them. They have also expressed their readiness to do everything that is necessary to heal this wound so that we can all move forward in hope.

 We also assure you, our beloved people, that we shall re-examine the manner of our collaboration with government agencies for purposes of helping the poor, making sure that pastoral sensibilities are respected and the highest ethical standards are observed. We shall examine our values in the light of our vocation to be disciples of Jesus Christ. We commit ourselves to the long journey of personal and social transformation required of all disciples of the Lord. We plead with you to walk with us in this path of constant renewal.

 We express again our deep sorrow for the pain that the recent events have brought to you our beloved people. The good Lord knows our love for you. The words of the psalmist come to our mind: “My sacrifice, a contrite spirit. A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn” (Ps.51). As the same Psalmist addresses the Lord, we take his words as our own to encourage and challenge us: “Indeed you love truth in the heart; then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom.”


For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines,


Bishop of Tandag

President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

July 11, 2011


Notice the deft use of techniques employed in Bishop Odchimar’s “apology”… it says a lot without… well, without saying anything at all. Even after reading it for the nth time, you’re still not sure what he’s sorry for… but somehow you feel sorry for him now. Now that is the mark of a truly well-written non-apology apology letter.





Now compare it with the apology letter Bill Clinton wrote during the Monica Lewinski sex scandal. Who did a better job at non-apologizing? :


Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the White House and to this day to which Hillary and the vice president and I look forward so much every year.

This is always an important day for our country, for the reasons that the vice president said. It is an unusual and, I think, unusually important day today. I may not be quite as easy with my words today as I have been in years past,

and I was up rather late last night thinking about and praying about what I ought to say today. And rather unusual for me, I actually tried to write it down. So if you will forgive me, I will do my best to say what it is I want to say to you – and I may have to take my glasses out to read my own writing.

First, I want to say to all of you that, as you might imagine, I have been on quite a journey these last few weeks to get to the end of this, to the rock bottom truth of where I am and where we all are.

I agree with those who have said that in my first statement after I testified I was not contrite enough. I don’t think there is a fancy way to say that I have sinned.

It is important to me that everybody who has been hurt know that the sorrow I feel is genuine: first and most important, my family; also my friends, my staff, my Cabinet, Monica Lewinsky and her family, and the American people. I have asked all for their forgiveness.

But I believe that to be forgiven, more than sorrow is required – at least two more things. First, genuine repentance – a determination to change and to repair breaches of my own making. I have repented. Second, what my bible calls a ”broken spirit”; an understanding that I must have God’s help to be the person that I want to be; a willingness to give the very forgiveness I seek; a renunciation of the pride and the anger which cloud judgment, lead people to excuse and compare and to blame and complain.

Now, what does all this mean for me and for us? First, I will instruct my lawyers to mount a vigorous defense, using all available appropriate arguments. But legal language must not obscure the fact that I have done wrong. Second, I will continue on the path of repentance, seeking pastoral support and that of other caring people so that they can hold me accountable for my own commitment.

Third, I will intensify my efforts to lead our country and the world toward peace and freedom, prosperity and harmony, in the hope that with a broken spirit and a still strong heart I can be used for greater good, for we have many blessings and many challenges and so much work to do.

In this, I ask for your prayers and for your help in healing our nation. And though I cannot move beyond or forget this – indeed, I must always keep it as a caution light in my life – it is very important that our nation move forward.

I am very grateful for the many, many people – clergy and ordinary citizens alike – who have written me with wise counsel. I am profoundly grateful for the support of so many Americans who somehow through it all seem to still know that I care about them a great deal, that I care about their problems and their dreams. I am grateful for those who have stood by me and who say that in this case and many others, the bounds of privacy have been excessively and unwisely invaded. That may be. Nevertheless, in this case, it may be a blessing, because I still sinned. And if my repentance is genuine and sustained, and if I can maintain both a broken spirit and a strong heart, then good can come of this for our country as well as for me and my family. (Applause)

The children of this country can learn in a profound way that integrity is important and selfishness is wrong, but God can change us and make us strong at the broken places. I want to embody those lessons for the children of this country – for that little boy in Florida who came up to me and said that he wanted to grow up and be President and to be just like me. I want the parents of all the children in America to be able to say that to their children.

A couple of days ago when I was in Florida a Jewish friend of mine gave me this liturgy book called ”Gates of Repentance.” And there was this incredible passage from the Yom Kippur liturgy. I would like to read it to you:

”Now is the time for turning. The leaves are beginning to turn from green to red to orange. The birds are beginning to turn and are heading once more toward the south. The animals are beginning to turn to storing their food for the winter. For leaves, birds and animals, turning comes instinctively. But for us, turning does not come so easily. It takes an act of will for us to make a turn. It means breaking old habits. It means admitting that we have been wrong, and this is never easy. It means losing face. It means starting all over again. And this is always painful. It means saying I am sorry. It means recognizing that we have the ability to change. These things are terribly hard to do. But unless we turn, we will be trapped forever in yesterday’s ways. Lord help us to turn, from callousness to sensitivity, from hostility to love, from pettiness to purpose, from envy to contentment, from carelessness to discipline, from fear to faith. Turn us around, O Lord, and bring us back toward you. Revive our lives as at the beginning, and turn us toward each other, Lord, for in isolation there is no life.”

I thank my friend for that. I thank you for being here. I ask you to share my prayer that God will search me and know my heart, try me and know my anxious thoughts, see if there is any hurtfulness in me, and lead me toward the life everlasting. I ask that God give me a clean heart, let me walk by faith and not sight.

I ask once again to be able to love my neighbor – all my neighbors – as my self, to be an instrument of God’s peace; to let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart and, in the end, the work of my hands, be pleasing. This is what I wanted to say to you today.

Thank you. God bless you.


President Bill Clinton – September 11, 1998




For more FF Top 10 Lists, click on http://filipinofreethinkers.org/tag/top-10/

Posted in HumorComments (9)

Your Face is a Heavily Funded PR Conspiracy

It’s a miracle any of us have been posting on the site recently, considering how little sleep we’ve gotten these past few days. It’s been all cardboard and pens and scissors and tarps and lots and lots and lots of tape for us recently as a handful of us scrambled to create 7 miniature SUVs and placards from scratch in a single night. While some ended up falling unconscious for an hour or two, most had foregone sleep entirely. We be badass.

So, little did others know that while the Freethinkers stood with the rest of Bantay Bishop outside the Senate gates last Wednesday morning, greeting the bishops and Senators as they cruised in for the PCSO hearing, we were running on the barest minimum of energy, half-thinking of the Pajero 7, half-thinking of random mattresses and Jollibee Breakfast Joys. Fortunately, our determination kept us from keeling over.

Moreover, we did this despite our day jobs and other priorities. And all the materials were either from our personal belongings, borrowed, or bought using cash pooled from our members and friends. In the midst of our criticizing an issue regarding certain people getting grossly undeserved funds that could have gone to deserving citizens, it is highly ironic that we would be accused of enjoying this very form of corruption due to some bizarre conspiracy theory. Unlike other people, we helped ourselves.

None of us would have done this because we were told or paid to. We didn’t walk away from this event with extra cash in our pockets or pats on the back from some greasy bigwig. Instead, we headed off for the jobs and deadlines we had put on hold, for a place to finally get some grub and, for a lucky few,  for our homes where we fell unconscious on our beds. And we’d do all of this all over again if (and when) we have to.

Posted in Featured, Personal, Politics, Religion, SocietyComments (8)

We Did It

We have read with deep dismay the sentiments of Senator Miriam Santiago regarding the recent Senate investigation hearing on the bishops who received Pajeros (oh, sorry, SUVs— for some strange reason the distinction has become vitally important) during the Arroyo administration. We were particularly saddened by the following:

Q: To clarify, you mentioned that there are people behind the “Pajero bishops” propaganda?

A: That’s right. The public will not spontaneously call the issue “Pajero bishops” if someone had not put that thought into their heads. And if someone can make this basic unintelligible mistake as calling the SUVs Pajeros when none is a Pajero at all, then that can only mean that perhaps a PR practitioner designed this entire program. We’re barking up the wrong tree. We are only talking 7 million, and there is even a constitutional issue involved, maybe it’s correctly appropriated or not—as we said, we have to wait for the Supreme Court.

Why the emphasis on 7 million pesos when there are billions that on the surface were apparently abused and wasted by these officials? Why are we being led this path? Who is manipulating the scenarios? They are trying to cover up bigger multibillion peso anomalies in the PCSO and PAGCOR, and they have conveniently found a scapegoat in the CBCP because, you know, it makes a sensational headline.

I feel outraged, and I really feel that there is an air of final desperation about our government if people who have not been elected can feel free-despite the installation of a new administration based on its anti-graft platform—to steal billions of pesos from the people’s money.

I understand that there is a certain PR practitioner has been going the rounds at least in the print media, emphasizing the bishop controversy. That is my understanding. I haven’t had time to check it out. Of course he is free. That is a very legitimate profession. But if he is purposely maligning other sectors so as to derail the Blue Ribbon investigation on the PCSO anomalies, then it already becomes a criminal effort to cover up obstruction of justice.

Q: Can you name this person?

A: No, not yet. I’m just wondering why we are spending so much time and effort on 7 million pesos when there are billion-peso anomalies involved. And why all of a sudden when I’m coming to my workplace am I assaulted by this group who are all against a group of people under investigation without even having heard their side. They could have just sat here and listened first and then go out there and start waving their placards up and down.

We say dismay because up until now we have had quite a lot of respect for Senator Santiago, who has in the past campaigned against corruption and general skullduggery at great cost to her personal and political life. It has also been refreshing and often entertaining to have a politician unafraid to speak her mind in public, particularly about things most others might feel it impolite to discuss.

Therefore it is with all due respect that we say this, in the hopes that it may clarify matters and lay her many suspicions about the action to rest:

Dear Honorable Senator — we, the Filipino Freethinkers, are the people behind this. We were the ones who made the cardboard Pajeros and rode them in bishop’s attire. It was we, along with fellow like-minded groups who banded with us to form a single movement, who showed our ire towards this glaring violation of Church-State separation the day of the Senate hearings. We are not PR practitioners. We are a grassroots movement dedicated to advocating reason, science, and secularism.

It was not, and never will be, our intention to cover up other bigger issues of corruption. We remain a relatively small group with limited resources, and as such we are simply focusing on the bishops’ fault in this case, because it is and always has been our niche to address violations of secularism, and of late it has been Catholic Bishops who have been the most prominent offenders.

If you take a look at our website you would see that we have indeed been listening very carefully to what the bishops have had to say for quite some time now, and we believe that their continued wrongdoings are blatant enough that ordinary citizens like ourselves — the ‘public’ you seemed to have casually dismissed early on in your statement — have good cause to call them out for it.

Ultimately, while we are flattered that you think our recent action looked fabulously expensive enough that it must have required some shadowy bogeyman funding everything, the hats were made with corrugated plastic, the SUV costumes with cartons and printed tarps, and the robes were all borrowed soutanas. About a dozen of us spent the sleepless night before putting them all together with duct tape.

We did it, Senator Santiago. We did it, and unlike a lot of other people as of late, we are certainly not sorry for what we have done.


The Filipino Freethinkers

(Image from Orkut Plus)

Posted in Announcements, Featured, Personal, Politics, Religion, SocietyComments (8)

Bantay Bishop movement launched to guard Senate investigation on CBCP corruption

(July 13, 2011) Philippines — Over 150 individuals launched the Bantay Bishop movement to support the Senate Blue Ribbon committee investigation on the 7 Pajero Bishops allegedly bribed by ex-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The individuals come from different organizations, including Filipino Freethinkers, Likhaan, Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines, Watchbiatches, Pink Rockers, and Interfaith Partnership for the Promotion of Responsible Parenthood. Individual supporters include Carlos Celdran and Dr. Sylvia Claudio.

“We’re here to remind everyone that even bishops can be criminals, too,” said Red Tani, spokesman of Bantay Bishop. “Criminals must be brought to justice, even if they’re leaders of religious organizations.”

The demonstration featured 7 activists, each wearing a costume that resembles a bishop riding an SUV. The costumes were dubbed “Mitsubishop Montero,” “Nissan SaPari,” and “StraDamaso,” alluding to the brands of the SUVs received by the bishops.

“The costumes represent the hypocrisy of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy,” said Tani. “They claim to be pro-poor. But by accepting PCSO funds, they rob the poor of resources reserved for them. They claim to be anti-corruption. But they accepted bribes from a corrupt president, refrained from asking her to resign, and kept quiet about this bribery until forced to confess by someone else. They claim to be pro-life. But by delaying the passage of the RH Bill, they indirectly cause thousands of deaths.”

In addition to highlighting the hypocrisy of the CBCP, Bantay Bishop asked the Senate Blue Ribbon committee to do three things:

“(1) The bishops must be treated like any other Filipino citizen — no more, no less. Recent statements from Sen. Enrile and Sen. Drilon imply that bishops will be treated more carefully than other individuals suspected of corruption. But it’s this special standing that allows corruption to continue because everyone assumes their innocence. It can be difficult to recognize wolves in shepherds’ clothing.

“(2) If found guilty, the bishops must be punished accordingly. In addition to the separation of church and state mandated by our Constitution, the bishops also violated RA No.3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which states that it is “unlawful for any person knowingly to induce or cause any public official to commit” corrupt practices, of which allocating PCSO funds for the bishops’ SUVs is included.

“(3) In addition to following through with this investigation to its conclusion, the Senate Blue Ribbon committee must launch an investigation into other illegal donations that, according to the bishops themselves, have become standard practice since Cory’s administration. The investigation only covers 2007-2009, a mere two years; there are two decades of “donations” yet to be uncovered. We believe that the 7 SUVs are just the tip of the iceberg.

Bantay Bishop will continue to observe the Senate Blue Ribbon investigation and publish commentary on its channels. “We need to guard the bishops because they have shown that they will not guard themselves,” said Tani. “But whatever the result of the investigation we already know this: the CBCP does not occupy the moral high ground.”

If you support the movement, join Bantay Bishop on Facebook. If you’d like more information about this, or to schedule an interview with Red Tani, please send an email to [email protected] or visit our contact page.

Posted in Featured, Politics, Press Releases, Religion, SocietyComments (10)