Pueblos would do a Sin but who’s the devil?
The late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin once declared he was willing to accept donations even from the devil himself if these would be used to help the poor.
But in this bishop’s case, who could that generous “Satan” be?
A senator posed this unsettling question to Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos at Wednesday’s Senate hearing on the alleged anomalies surrounding the release of funds from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), in which seven prelates received money supposedly for high-end vehicles during the Arroyo administration.
Pueblos was earlier revealed as having asked for a brand-new, 4 x 4 Mitsubishi Montero sport utility vehicle as a gift from then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for his 66th birthday in 2009.
“For example, if the Devil or Satan appears in front of you and offers to give you money or a vehicle for that matter, would you accept it?” Senator Jinggoy Estrada asked Pueblos during an exchange, in which the senator came prepared with a PowerPoint slide of an Inquirer news clipping on Sin’s pronouncements.
“If I can use the vehicle (for) the work I do for the people, I don’t think there is a reason (to refuse),” Pueblos replied.
“Do you agree with the statement of the late Cardinal Sin?” Estrada again asked, now pointing to his slide.
Pueblos, who had visibly grown uncomfortable in his seat, answered: “As of the moment, I cannot go anymore to far-flung areas (without a vehicle) but as of the moment, if given the chance, I am going to use it.”
“You are going to accept money from Satan?” Estrada pressed on. “In this case, who is the Satan here?”
Pueblos broke into chuckles, took a pause, then asked: “Who do you refer to?”
“Is it the PCSO? President Arroyo?” Estrada queried. “You are agreeable to the statement of Cardinal Sin, you are also agreeable to accept money coming from even…”
“I would rather (put some context to the) situation,” Pueblos said, cutting the senator. “If (accepting money from Satan) is for the common good or for the good of everybody, I do believe there might be a possibility (of me taking it) but I have to discern it further rather than accept it at once.”
Estrada took time to read aloud what Sin said in 2000 in defense of the Church accepting donations even from not-so-holy donors. The Church came under fire that year for condemning gambling while accepting some P118 million in donations from state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
“If Satan appears to me and gives me money, I will accept the money and spend it all on the poor. It is not the practice of the Church to ask donors where the donations come from. Our duty is to make sure all donations go to the poor,” Estrada quoted Sin as saying.
Was it proper?
Estrada also asked Pueblos if the latter really considered it proper for a man of the cloth to solicit a “brand-new car” from Arroyo as a birthday present.
The bishop explained that it was necessary for him to have a sturdy vehicle for his work in Mindanao, particularly in connection with peace and development projects with Muslims and tribal minorities.
“The improperness at that time, I did not actually feel because (Arroyo) knows the situation of the roads in Caraga (region),” Pueblos said.
Pueblos also recalled that then President Arroyo designated him as a commissioner in a panel that would investigate extrajudicial killings, a job which he said required him to go to far-flung areas especially in Marawi City.
“There was really a need for a good vehicle. In my place, that is not really luxury,” Pueblos said.
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