Bishops want apology from Aquino, Juico
Four Catholic bishops on Thursday urged President Aquino and gaming chief Margarita Juico to make a public apology for dragging the Church into the so-called “Pajero” scandal.
An archbishop also reminded the President that leadership was not only about integrity but about uniting people, not dividing them.
At least two of the bishops called on Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Chairperson Margarita Juico to resign.
In separate text messages, Bishops Dinualdo Gutierrez of Marbel, Elenito Galido of Iligan, Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon and Jose Collin Bagaforo of Cotabato poured criticism on Juico despite her remarks that the PCSO would want to continue working with the Church in helping the poor.
“Now, it’s the PCSO’s and Aquino’s time to apologize to the people, after what they have (done). Juico’s resignation is the best apology. Maybe the entire board of PCSO should resign. Aquino has failed,” Bagaforo said.
“The anti-Catholic Church campaign [has] Aquino’s green light. Shall we just let this thing happen? Let’s make a stand for our faith,” Bagaforo added.
Galido’s message was: “She (Juico) should clear the names of the bishop and leave it to the President to ask her to resign for just action.”
“Yes, I agree that Juico et al. should resign. Let them resign,” Bastes said.
For his part, Gutierrez said: “She should apologize via all media organizations. She should repair the damage done to the Catholic Church.”
The calls were triggered by accusations during Senate hearings that seven prelates had received money from the PCSO during the Aquino administration to enable them to buy expensive vehicles.
A fifth bishop—someone close to the Aquino family—had a different advice to the President.
In a speech before the Rotary Club and induction ceremonies at the Lyceum of Northwestern Philippines in Dagupan City, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan said it was not enough that Aquino should have “integrity”—he should also have a leadership that unites.
“We need the spirit of integrity but also a magnanimous integrating spirit to heal all causes of division,” he said in his speech, a copy of which was provided reporters.
The archbishop said leadership should also be “vision setting.”
“Leadership without vision is treachery to the governed. Integral leadership also means setting the path towards the future. Those who set their hearts on the plow cannot keep looking back,” Villegas said.
He said the President’s possession of integrity was a good start but more was needed.
“Leadership is moving forward with excitement. The task of the leader is not only to stay clean and live by integrity,” Villegas said.
“In the ‘balanced square’ of leadership, the other three sides must be economic progress and stability; second, political will and clarity of laws; and the third is availability of education and social services,” Villegas added.
“If these three sides are given equal support connected by integrity and blameless living, even integrity itself will become part of our national ethics and the rays of bright future await us.”
Aquino ‘remains clean’
One year after the President’s oath-taking, Villegas said the Aquino name “remains clean and untarnished by any accusation of corruption even in its smallest form.”
“Although not perfect, our President has been conscientiously trying to rise above the perception that all politicians are corrupt and all politics is dirty and no one becomes a politician and stays clean. After one year in office, the first word that comes to mind to describe the present national leadership is integrity,” he said.
However, Villegas said that politicians, much like Church leaders who were required to practice what they preach, should not be content with just having integrity.
No to vendetta
“Leadership must embrace and unite not alienate and divide. Leadership must be a progressive action of seeking communion and making one. Political partisanship is for the campaign and election period. Beyond the oath-taking, the leadership must be integrating,” Villegas said.
“It must seek to unite the many apparently contrasting colors around us and paint a rainbow of harmony in the horizon.”
The archbishop said prosecution for previous wrongdoings “must be carried out to the full but such must be done in pursuit of justice not revenge.”
“Political vendetta divides even more. The true statesman must reach out and seek consensus…. The man of integrity must also be a man of unity,” Villegas said.
In Manila, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza and other members of the Coalition on Family and Life are set to gather at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo this morning to appeal to the lay leaders and devotees of the Black Nazarene to donate and help raise funds for the purchase of new vehicles for the seven bishops who returned the ones they got with the help of the PCSO.
Malacañang said the PCSO’s lapse in branding some Catholic prelates “Pajero bishops” wasn’t enough to merit Juico’s resignation.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda indicated that the error was too small an issue for an official to resign her post.
“I think that’s a pretty minor reason to ask for resignation,” Lacierda told reporters. He also said he didn’t see any reason for Juico to apologize.
Juico apologized during the Senate hearing for the Pajero tag.—With a report from Norman Bordadora
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