MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/6 July) – Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos had asked former PresidentGloria Macapagal-Arroyo for a brandnew “4×4” SUV (sports utility vehicle) as gift for his 66th birthday, an official of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office told the Senate blue ribbon committee in a hearing aired live on ANC Wednesday morning.
Quoting a letter supposedly written by Pueblos sometime in February 2009, PCSO general manager Francisco Joaquin III said the bishop specifically suggestedbuying a brand new Montero Sport 2008 model.
Also quoting the letter, the PCSO official said the bishop wanted a vehicle that can take him to far-flung areas in his diocese, which covers the provinces of Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur.
But Joaquin said it was still not clear what brand or model was purchased using the PCSO fund.
The blue ribbon committee was investigating alleged irregularities in the disbursement of PCSO funds during the Arroyo administration.
PCSO Chairperson Margarita Juico clarified that the check issued for Pueblos’ request was paid to the diocese of Butuan and not to the bishop.
Two other bishops in Mindanao who allegedly received luxury vehicles from the PCSO during the term of Arroyo had denied the reports.
A news item posted on June 29 in www.cbcponline.net, the website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, quoted a statement from the Diocese of Ozamiz denying that Archbishop Jesus A. Dosado received a Pajero from the PCSO during the Arroyo administration.
Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, in a statement published in MindaNews (July 4, 2011), also denied “requested or received from PCSO any vehicle for my personal use, whether a Pajero or SUV or any other vehicle”.
Quevedo said that in 2008 he received a vehicle he requested from the PCSO for the church’shealth program and other social services.
He said “selectively bashing the Bishops for soliciting and accepting donations from the PCSO foractivities designed to help the poor is clearly unfair and unjust.