Caritas Manila: Donations from PCSO go to the poor | Inquirer News

Caritas Manila: Donations from PCSO go to the poor

By: - Reporter / @mj_uyINQ
/ 10:11 PM July 03, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—The charity arm of the Archdiocese of Manila defended bishops and Church institutions that have received sports utility vehicles from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, saying that such have been part of the long “critical collaboration” between the Church and the government.

Fr. Anton Pascual, Caritas Manila’s executive director, said the Catholic Church had clean intentions when it received funds and vehicles from the PCSO as they formed part of its “material and spiritual” services to the poor, particularly in areas hardly accessed by the government.

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The collaboration between the Church and government in delivering services has been present since the presidencies of Corazon Aquino, mother of incumbent President Aquino; Fidel V. Ramos; Joseph Estrada; and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said Pascual.

Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, has admitted that as a bishop, he had sought the help of former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, but this was never for personal intentions.

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In an interview with reporters on Friday, Ochidmar disclosed that he asked Arroyo to provide funds for the cementing of coastal roads in his province during her administration.

“If it is for the good of the people, I lobby for them. But for my personal use, I never asked,” said Odchimar.

For the first time, Odchimar openly spoke with reporters about perceptions that he was among the prelates belonging to the so-called “Malacañang diocese,” which allegedly supported in secret Arroyo during her time in power.

“That has to be qualified that I am close to her because protocol dictates that as the head of the diocese, whenever she and other government officials [visited], I was also with them because we had common constituents,” said the prelate.

Arroyo also consulted him about the local situation in his province “because I am the bishop,” he added. But he had strictly instructed his priests against soliciting from Malacañang for the benefit of their convents or churches, he added.

PCSO Chairperson Margarita Juico said recently that the agency was verifying information that six or seven units of Mitsubishi Pajero were donated to bishops a few months before Arroyo left Malacañang in 2010.

Odchimar admitted owning a second-hand three-door Mitsubishi Pajero. But the Tandag bishop said he bought it for P200,000 using his personal money.

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“It did not come from Malacañang. I bought it with my own money. I can show you the deed of absolute sale if you have doubts,” Odchimar said.

In defending his fellow priests who received donations from the PCSO, Pascual stressed that the Church and the government have been in partnership in terms of providing services to the poor.

“Whatever donations, either cash or in kind, that the Church leaders receive will always be for the benefit of the community since [they] are stewards, not owners, of what they receive from public and private donors,” said Pascual over the Church-run Radio Veritas on Sunday.

He added that such a collaboration for the benefit of the Filipinos, particularly the poor, should be maintained and strengthened because the Church has been able to remain apolitical and had neither “hidden agenda nor partisan ambition.”

The Church, as a partner in providing its services, has been effective and efficient in service delivery mainly with the help of parishes, mandated organizations and an extensive grassroots network of its Basic Ecclesiastical Community organizations, the priest added.

“The Church [also] has no institutionalized corruption… it is autonomous from the government and will collaborate critically, ensuring good check and balance at all times,” Pascual pointed out.

Pascual gave an assurance on Sunday that the people, not the Church, benefited from the grants given by the PCSO.

Citing the law, Pascual also said the PCSO was the main government agency responsible in raising and providing “funds for health programs, medical assistance and services, and charities of national character.”

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TAGS: Catholic Church, Charity, Church, donations, Government, lotteries, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Poverty, Religion
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