MANILA - Retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz remains unimpressed with President Aquino's anti-corruption stance and said he doubts if cases against those linked to the P10 billion pork barrel scam will be resolved soon.
Speaking to [email protected], Cruz criticized the Aquino administration's "persecutory stance" against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. He said the President always reminds the public of the corruption scandals of the past administration.
"I feel a persecutory stance of the present administration. I could be wrong but this is my perception. In fact there is no SONA where [Arroyo] was not mentioned as some kind of scapegoat and I feel bad about that," he said.
The retired archbishop ridiculed the President's "Daang Matuwid (straight path)" slogan, saying that it is under Aquino that government has a "Bureau of Corruption."
He also said he doubts anyone will be convicted soon in the P10 billion pork barrel scam because of the slow pace of the country's justice system.
"It is during this administration that there is a Bureau of Corruption. The Bureau of Customs, corruption continues. There's the PDAF scam, Malampaya, I don't know what. And the impeachment case of the former Chief Justice. I think when somebody shows daang matuwid, formerly I was also clapping my hands but whenever I hear daang matuwid now, come on, let's be real. Sometimes I say: 'Ang matuwid na daan tungo sa kanal.' That is terrible but I find it harder and harder to trust the President's intention," he said.
Cruz has become one of the most vocal critics of President Aquino, which started with their contrasting opinions on the Reproductive Health Bill.
In the interview, the prelate urged the Aquino administration to "do a Marcos" and grant house arrest to Mrs. Arroyo. Arroyo, who is facing plunder charges, is under hospital arrest at the Veterans' Memorial Medical Center.
"Why don't you let her have house arrest? Were will she go? How could she go with this physical condition? Even Senator Miriam Santiago also says she should be under house arrest. Even President Marcos allowed [then Senator] Benigno Aquino Jr. to leave because of some medical checkup. Of course, he came back and was killed but this poor lady is there and there is no place like home to recover. I don't think that is not something extraordinary or difficult to understand. If she were at home, she might be able to get her health back, you know, quite fast and quite easy but nobody listens," he said.
Cruz said he was convinced to visit Mrs. Arroyo at the VMMC after hearing Pope Francis' message that priests should reach out to the people and not the other way around.
The retired archbishop was also a staunch critic of Mrs. Arroyo during her administration. He said he was unhappy with Mrs. Arroyo when she broke her promise not to run in the 2004 elections, and again when she was implicated in the "Hello, Garci" wiretapping scandal.
The prelate said he spoke out against Arroyo based on the social doctrines of the Church. However, he said he remained silent when the former President was finally put in jail on plunder charges.
He also noted that Mrs. Arroyo never answered back against him.
Cruz admitted that Arroyo's failing health also pushed him to reconcile with the former President.
"The fact is - she is sick and she is under hospital arrest. The fact is - she is not getting better so I was thinking that it was about time for me at least to settle the score so to speak. I asked her kind understanding, to please understand where I was coming from and I sought reconciliation and she was very gracious," he said.
"I feel good that I was able to do that. My burden was lessened somehow. I think it also helped her in a way that she knew I was repentant. I think that is also a good message for her," he added.
Cruz denied that there was a political reason behind his visit especially since he has no intention of running for office. "I am not even running for tanod," he said.