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Willie Revillame donates cash, 2 vehicles for 7 bishops

They’re not exactly beggars but can the seven bishops who returned vehicles to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) be choosers?

Controversial TV host Willie Revillame has joined Ang Galing Pinoy Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo and other donors in pooling their resources to raise money for the purchase of vehicles for the bishops.

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Revillame donated P100,000 in cash on top of a Foton 15-seat van and a Foton pickup, said lawyer Romulo Macalintal, who is leading a fund-raising campaign for poor dioceses.

Foton, a Chinese-made vehicle, is one of the prizes that Revillame gives away in his TV show “Wil Time Bigtime” amid gyrating scantily clad women.

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“It’s not the amount you donate but the unity of all of us and respect and support for our priests and Church that matter most,” Macalintal said in a text message.

But Fr. Edu Gariguez, the executive secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action, said on Tuesday that accepting donations tainted by corruption was “more abominable and unacceptable” than being put to shame for accepting donations from the PCSO.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines apologized last week to the faithful for receiving the donations from the charity agency. The bishops returned the vehicles on the day they appeared before the Senate blue ribbon committee that is looking into fund misuse at the PCSO.

Not to be judgmental

Gariguez said the bishops should just ride bicycles instead of receiving donations from the likes of Mikey Arroyo, a son of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who is accused of corruption and other offenses. Mikey donated P50,000.

Macalintal, a former election lawyer of the elder Arroyo, said he was “sad and disheartened” that the donation from Mikey triggered “negative reactions from some Catholic priests.”

“In my 27 years of service in the Ministry of Liturgy in the Catholic Church, I have been taught by our priests and the Bible not to be judgmental, which, obviously, is expected of a priest,” he said.

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Macalintal said he “could only recall how Jesus was persecuted when He worked on Sabbath Day and how He was questioned on why He ate or took meals with Levi or Matthew, the tax collector and other sinners.”

Macalintal launched the fund-raising drive following the scandal triggered by reports that the bishops had received donations from the PCSO during the Arroyo administration for the purchase of 4 x 4 vehicles, first reported as Mitsubishi Pajeros.

He said he was incensed by the PCSO exposé, especially after it turned out that no Pajeros had been given away. Save for one bishop whose diocese received money used to purchase a Montero 4 x 4 SUV, other dioceses used the PCSO donations to acquire either pick-ups or vans.

P1.8-M donations

One diocese used a PCSO cash donation to buy a 10-year-old, second-hand Nissan pick-up for P280,000. Another diocese utilized a vehicle for its program against human trafficking.

As of Thursday, Macalintal said the campaign had raised P1.8 million in cash, excluding pledges amounting to P300,000.

The bulk of the donations came from politicians and businessmen, but Macalintal said credit should also go to ordinary Catholics.

“Everyone is a fund-raiser,” said Macalintal, who coursed cash donations through BPI Family Bank (Pamplona Tres-Las Piñas branch) using the account name of “Pondo ng Nagkakaisang Simbahang Katoliko” with Account No. 5623-5296-83.

“Even the seller of ‘sampaguita’ and abaniko at Plaza Miranda [in Quiapo] are fund-raisers. We merely facilitate and keep the fund in trust on behalf of those who shared their resources,” he added.

Senators Vicente Sotto III and Francis Escudero earlier donated P200,000 and P100,000 in cash, respectively. Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. and his wife, Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado, also shelled out P200,000.

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TAGS: Ang Galing Pinoy Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, executive secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action, Fr. Edu Gariguez, lawyer Romulo Macalintal, Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Willie Revillame
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