Millions of Filipinos spent today, January 9, struggling through crushing crowds for a chance to touch, or even just glimpse the Black Nazarene as it was paraded around Manila.
But for detained businesswoman and accused huckster Janet Lim Napoles, getting close to the icon was no problem. It was regularly and personally brought to her mansion by its priest-custodian, Monsignor Josefino Ramirez.
Just think, my hubby Alan told me, of the fondling opportunities Napoles had with the Black Nazarene. She totally had her way with the icon.
And yet, instead of criticizing this gross favoritism extended to the accused con artist, who reportedly helped herself to billions of the people’s money, the Catholic clergy has chosen to stay silent, with some church officials even defending the actions of their fellow prelate, Msgr Ramirez.
When I first heard this news, I could not believe it. I held off writing about it and tried contacting Msgr Ramirez for weeks last year. Finally, I was able to contact the very place he was staying in. I was told he was not available. I left word that I wanted to speak with him. He never got in touch with me.
Instead, he opted to issue a written statement explaining why Napoles deserved to have the Black Nazarene brought to her personally. He said Napoles’ mother, “Magdalena Luy Lim has always supported our apostolate for the poor most especially the Pantawid Gutom Feeding for the street people and malnourished children both in Binondo (1992-2004) and Quiapo (2004-2007) Parishes. When I was transferred to Divine Mercy Shrine in Mandaluyong City in 2007 she also helped our program for the elderly and our prison ministry in New Bilibid Prison.”
Apparently, he had a regular stipend from Napoles:
ABS-CBN also quoted Ramirez as saying the following: “Magdalena Lim Luy heeded the call of then-Pope Benedict to help poor priests and seminarians in China…Ramirez explained that Napoles and her family were continuing their mother’s advocacies through the Magdalena Lim Luy Charity Foundation, a group that Napoles now owns.”
The Monsignor’s statement is very clear: “Since her death on February 28, 2008, her family, relatives and friends, especially Filipino-Chinese devotees, continue to contribute in her memory to the now referred Magdalena Luy Lim Charity Foundation in the Service of Divine Mercy Inc.”
Sounds quite commendable, right? Napoles and her family ran a charity foundation for the poor, therefore she was entitled to a house call by the Black Nazarene.
Except for one problem: the Monsignor told the Securities and Exchange Commission – the foundation was never operational.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.