Tag Archive | "bribery"

So I Heard You Liek Pajeros


So you know those 7 Pajeros Gloria Arroyo bribed those Bishops with? Yesterday at a Senate hearing, the PCSO revealed they got more than Pajeros. The Bishops also got a Crosswind, a Montero, a Strada, a Grandia, and a partridge in a pear tree.

And it gets better still! The PCSO also uncovered a letter from one of the Pajero Bishops, Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos, asking GMA for an SUV on his birthday. Here is an excerpt from his letter to GMA:


Pueblos, the birthday boy

I will be celebrating my 66th birthday on March 8, 2009. I know this will be a precious day and timely occasion to thank the Lord for giving me another year … After a prayerful discernment and due considerations to the existing crisis phenomenon today, I have decided not to hold a birthday party. Instead, I prefer to make use of my birthday as a day with and for myself, and with God.

I hope you will never fail to give a brand new car which would serve as your birthday gift to me. For your information, I have with me a 7-year-old car which is not anymore in good running condition. Therefore, this needs to be replaced very soon.

So kids, what have we learned from the Bishops today? You don’t really need to pray to God to get a SUV. What you should do instead is buddy up to a corrupt president and then ask her nicely. It’s like Bishop Pueblos knows that prayer doesn’t really work!

Even better, the CBCP might have brought these troubles on themselves. Just last Monday, the CBCP told the Aquino government to stop whining about GMA and start filing cases after government officials disclosed the financial fallout on the PCSO from GMA’s corruption.

Well, looks like they got what they asked for.

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The Catholic Church: “Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?”


Some bishops of the CBCP have been caught in a bribery scandal involving Pajeros, the PCSO and Gloria Arroyo’s administration.

The CBCP, staunch defenders of Roman Catholic morals that they are (that’s been their rhetoric in the reproductive health, divorce  and same sex marriage debates) have responded and oh boy… One would think that the moral thing to do when caught taking bribes would be to at the very least apologize and take action on the sinning bishops. Clean your houses bishops, it will be good for you.

But that’s not the first thing that they did.

Instead they petulantly whine, “but the other churches are doing it too!”. Oh persecution complex, you make everything so much more worse:

A ranking Catholic archbishop has challenged the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to identify other religious groups who received financial aid from the agency.

“If there’s malice in those donations to Catholic bishops, the PCSO must also identify all the other recipients from other Churches,” Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla said.

While an ex-president of the CBCP implicitly admits to the bribery allegations, the first reaction of current CBCP president Nereo Odchimar was to call the PCSO irresponsible and challenge them to name names.

The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Tandag, Surigao del Sur Bishop Nereo Odchimar, said last Friday he was not discounting the possibility that the issue that some prelates accepted vehicles from PCSO was somehow linked to moves aimed at discrediting the Catholic Church.

“They (PCSO) should be accurate because names are being destroyed. It would rather be irresponsible to be implicating names. They were just made suspects,” he said.

So the PCSO did. Well that shut him up. For now the CBCP are making noise about taking some sort of action. Or at least sitting around and talking about it anyway.

This kind of behavior, that of whining that other churches are doing bad things too and then sitting around on their derrieres taking the minimal action is not a foreign concept to the Roman Catholic hierarchy. This kind of thinking goes all the way up to the Vatican. In 2009, this is what the Vatican said to the UN Human Rights Council about the child abuse cases:

The Vatican has lashed out at criticism over its handling of its paedophilia crisis by saying the Catholic church was “busy cleaning its own house” and that the problems with clerical sex abuse in other churches were as big, if not bigger.

[Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the UN,] quoted statistics from the Christian Science Monitor newspaper to show that most US churches being hit by child sex abuse allegations were Protestant and that sexual abuse within Jewish communities was common.

Given the history of how the Roman Catholic church has handled sex abuse within its priesthood, one wonders how long it will take the CBCP to act on these bribery allegations and whether any meaningful justice will be served. It has taken the Vatican decades to sort out any sensible guidelines for handling child abuse and even then, the victims say these guidelines are not enough.

Bishops, where is this moral ascendancy that you talk about so much? How the CBCP handles these bribery allegations will reveal much of their morals but when the hierarchy’s response to Bacani being accused of sexual harassment is to have him go off to America for a vacation, you really have to wonder what kind of morality they are operating with.

If the CBCP can’t clean house on bribery, what more (or less) will they do for actual victims of rape from priests?

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PCSO reveals 5 of 7 bribed CBCP bishops


After throwing allegations left and right, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) finally began to back it up. They’ve revealed the recipients of the 7 Pajeros:

PCSO board director, Atty. Aleta Tolentino, said a 2009 Commission on Audit report showed there were several checks representing the amount that were taken from the charity fund.
She said P1.44 million was given to the Archdiocese of Cotabato for the purchase of a service vehicle, P1.5 million went to the Zamboanga Archdiocesan Social Action Apostolate, P720,000 was given to Caritas Nueva Segovia, P1.125 million to the Roman Catholic Prelate of Isabela, Basilan and P1.7 million to the Diocese of Butuan.

So that’s

  1. Archdiocese of Cotabato
  2. Zamboanga Archdiocesan Social Action Apostolate
  3. Caritas Nueva Segovia
  4. Roman Catholic Prelate of Isabela
  5. Diocese of Butuan

Wait. There’s only 5 in that list. Maybe some of those people received more than one Pajero. Or maybe 2 bishops got away. Anyway, it’s either PCSO is still looking for evidence against the 2 bishops (or got the initial allegations wrong), or these 2 bishops are too high up in the hierarchy to go after. I sure hope it’s not the latter.

Whatever the case, Atty. Tolentino said that the ones revealed and the officials involved will be investigated by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, chaired by Sen. TG. Guingona:

“Based on the COA report, may violation ng Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act). Siguro kung may kasalanan ang bishops, dapat parusahan sila. We should be God-fearing, not bishop-fearing,” she said.

I applaud the PCSO for following through, and for knowing that bishops should not be feared. But it’s not really necessary that people be God-fearing to follow the law. As these corrupt CBCP bishops will soon realize, the harsh criticism of society and the punitive power of the state are scary enough.

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Ex-CBCP President implicitly admits bribery allegations


“I believe the allegations that bishops got Pajeros and other bribes are all true.” Ex-CBCP President Oscar Cruz did not say this, but he should have just as well. Because although Oscar did not explicitly say it, his response to the bribery allegations was almost as good as an admission of guilt.

First, he never denied the allegations. Like Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, Oscar could have simply said that there is no truth behind the allegations. But neither of them did.

Nor did Bishop Bacani. It seems that he already knows that bribery went on. Because the only “if” in Bacani’s mind is whether the bribery would be proven true:

“If proven true that some bishops are on take, it could dent the credibility of the Church,” said retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani.

Oscar Cruz seems to agree. He is so sure that there are indeed bishops accepting bribes that he addresses them directly, and there is nothing implicit about this:

“I think those concerned should speak up… otherwise the whole hierarchy will be affected,” said Cruz, a former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

“Whether this is proven by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) or not, they should come out. The truth will set you free,” he said.

Again, by saying that the bribed bishops should come out “whether this is proven by the PCSO or not,” Oscar is clearly saying that regardless of the outcome of PCSO’s investigation, there is no doubt in his mind that some bishops were bribed.

If the ex-President of the CBCP himself is sure that there was bribery, then that’s probably the case. Oscar should work with Father Robert Reyes and expose the corruption within their ranks. Oscar would only be consistent. And he’d be hitting two birds with one stone — isn’t Oscar against both gambling and corruption? Otherwise, he would be just another CBCP hypocrite.

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Catholic priest says CBCP bishops got more than Pajeros


Father Robert Reyes said that Catholic bishops got a lot more than the Pajeros allegedly given to them by ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA).

According to Fr. Reyes, GMA “constructed houses (for priests), convents, cathedrals, and gave away cars” so that bishops would not criticize GMA’s presidency or ask her to step down during “crisis points” such as the election scandal in 2005.

Fr. Reyes said that the Presidential Advisers on Ecclesiastical Affairs was used by GMA to find out which bishops needed to be bribed with vehicles or church buildings.

He said that as an insider, he was “not speaking from the outside (of the Church’s institution).” He even had an idea of who these bishops were.

I hope that Fr. Reyes gives insider information such as this to the authorities. Unfortunately, I think he is expecting that the bishops themselves confess their sins. He urged the corrupt bishops to come clean and return the gifts to the government, telling them that “they don’t have to make it public or announce it.”

I agree that the CBCP and its corrupt bishops must come clean, but I don’t agree that anyone should be quiet about this. The CBCP should make a public apology and reveal the identities of those involved in this scandal. Only by doing this can they show the public that they are serious about reform. Anything less would perpetuate the culture of secrecy that allows corruption like this to thrive.

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7 CBCP bishops bribed with Pajeros as part of “standard practice”


7 Catholic bishops each received a Pajero from ex-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA). This allegation was made by Margarita Juico, chair of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

Juico told the Inquirer that GMA “moved to divide the bishops by getting some of them on her side to ensure that the CBCP (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines) would not have a unified stand on her.” According to the Inquirer report, “Juico said that she was told by some of the agency’s old-timers that these ‘donations’ to the Church leaders had become standard practice since Arroyo faced a real threat of removal from office with the ‘Hello Garci’ election cheating scandal six years ago.

The CBCP replied by saying it didn’t accept bribes “as a group.” But it did not deny the allegations that 7 bishops were bribed with Pajeros (emphasis mine):

Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, media director of the CBCP, said the Church hierarchy as a group did not avail itself of the supposed extravagant gifts from PCSO during Arroyo’s term.
“The CBCP as a body did not have any part in that…” Quitorio said.

How easy would it have been for Msgr. Quitorio to say that none of the CBCP bishops received a Pajero? To me this is almost as good as admitting that there were indeed some bishops who were bribed by GMA.

And according to Juico, these Pajeros were given a few months before GMA stepped down. What other expensive gifts were given as part of GMA’s “standard practice” of “donating” to the CBCP?

It is not enough for Quitorio and the CBCP to disassociate themselves with the individual bishops who accepted bribes in spite of the official position of their organization. If Juico’s allegations are true, it was the dissent of these bribed bishops that ensured the CBCP would not go against GMA’s administration. This silence amidst obvious corruption was an organizational action, and the CBCP as a whole is guilty for it.

I hope the PCSO continues its investigation into this scandal. Juico’s allegations are serious, and needs to be backed by evidence. At the same time, the CBCP should do its own investigation and expose corruption within its own ranks. Otherwise, with all their crusades against gambling and corruption and immorality, they will be nothing more than hypocrites.

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