Monday, July 04, 2011

Questions to PCSO on its So-Called Expose: The Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth?

1. What happened to the first expose that 7 bishops received Pajeros from President Arroyo through PCSO for their personal use? It is quite simple to put a closure to this issue – just look into your records and reveal the names of the Bishops involved. Perhaps leaving the so called expose open ended would serve your motives better? And what really are your motives? To tell the truth? But why do you keep people guessing as to the truth of these Pajeros and the Bishops who were supposed to have received them?

2. Now that the Pajero issue remains a black mark on suspected Bishops, who one after the other categorically denied that they had solicited or received any Pajero for personal use, what do you wish to gain by redirecting your attack – that some bishops, indeed, received SUVs? If so, why did you not mention that PCSO donated each of the vehicles to Bishops or dioceses for purposes of social action, promotion of health, poverty alleviation, human development – all for the sake of the poor? After all that is their explicit request for help and is contained in the Memorandum of Agreement that both PCSO and beneficiary sign.

3. Why do you say that the donations to the Bishops were anomalous and unconstitutional? Does not the typical PCSO MOA with the beneficiary say that it is the mandate of the PCSO to provide assistance for health programs, health services, other services and charitable purposes? And therefore that the grant is not only meant for medical and health services? Do you think that Bishops and religious institutions use such grants for their own self-interests and not for the poor? Do you think that the cooperation of the Church in your work violates the principle of separation of Church and State? Do you think that by such donation you are establishing one religion as the State religion considering that your grants are given to different religious denominations for the sake of the poor?

4. Why do you single out some bishops in your so called expose when by simply looking into your records from the time of President Cory Aquino up to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, you will find donations to hundreds of religious groups of different denominations through the years for purposes of helping the poor? Would you have us believe that a thorough 2008 and 2009 audit on PCSO donations revealed only Bishops as beneficiaries and not other religious groups? And why do you claim that some three or four years after the “Garci tapes these grants were given to buy Bishops’ support against moves to oust President Arroyo? Do you think that all past Presidents, acting through PCSO, were unwise in having different religious denominations help in alleviating poverty, providing medical and health services, and doing development work for the poor? Did Presidents from the time of President Cory to the time of President Arroyo, acting through PCSO, violate the Constitution?

5. In brief, all the above questions beg the question of motives. What are your real motives in selectively targeting some bishops to whom PCSO gave grants for the sake of the poor?
6. Are you telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Or are you giving disinformation to discredit the Bishops for motives of your own?

+Orlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Cotabato
July 3, 2011

Friday, July 01, 2011


I wish to reiterate my declaration that I have never requested or received from PCSO any vehicle for my personal use, whether a Pajero or SUV or any other vehicle. This declaration refers to the PCSO allegation that 7 Bishops received Pajeros from PCSO for their personal use.

Yesterday the attack on Bishops changed course: from 7 Pajeros for personal use to vehicles for other purposes. The PCSO revealed that some Bishops, myself included, received SUVs for purposes related to the social action apostolate. In 2008 I, indeed, wrote a request to the PCSO for a vehicle to be used by our Social Action program, especially for our Community Based Health Program. We also wanted to use the vehicle for our training team to give seminars for community organizing at the grassroots, capacity building, training of Indigenous Peoples' leaders, as well as to bring sick people to hospitals when necessary. The request was granted.

This practice of asking for PCSO assistance for social action is not unusual. Since the time of President Cory Aquino up to the present, hundreds of church-related organizations have been granted assistance by PCSO to do social service, human development, poverty alleviation in line with the objectives both of the PCSO and also of social action in general. It is well known that such assistance crossed religious barriers and differences and was not limited to organizations within the Catholic Church. Dioceses, church-related educational institutions, religious congregations of men and women did not hesitate to ask for help to do medical missions, initiate livelihood projects, form and promote cooperatives, do capacity building of people at the grassroots. Cardinal Sin himself in defense of PCSO assistance given to him for his projects for the poor reportedly stated that he would even accept money from the devil in order to help the poor. I myself would not hesitate to ask for PCSO assistance for a very poor individual who needs a costly medical operation but cannot afford it.

Some ten years ago the Bishops in plenary assembly made a collective decision not to solicit or accept donations from legal and illegal gambling. Such a decision was not universally followed. The needs of the poor in the minds of many people in the Church, Bishops included, simply transcended such a decision. After all, the Bishops also knew that gambling is not immoral per se. It becomes immoral because of circumstances. This is why no Episcopal Conference outside the Philippines has addressed the issue of gambling as a pastoral problem in the way Philippine Bishops did. One of the reasons that Philippine Bishops cited regarding the immorality of gambling arose out of the cultural situation. To solicit and accept donations from legal and illegal gambling would be tantamount to promoting a cultural tendency to gamble.

Therefore, in the light of the above situation, to selectively bash the Bishops for soliciting and accepting donations from the PCSO for activities designed to help the poor is clearly unfair and unjust. From the time of President Cory Aquino to that of President Macapagal Arroyo PCSO has approved donations for social action for hundreds of church groups as consonant with PCSO objectives as well as a necessity to help meet the enormous needs of the poor.

+Orlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Cotabato
July 1, 2011