MANILA, Philippines - Former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza and election lawyer Romulo Macalintal on Friday took up a collection to raise funds to buy new vehicles for 7 Catholic bishops who returned donated sports utility vehicles (SUVs) to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
Atienza and Macalintal stayed until noon at the Church of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila to raise money for the replacement of the bishops' vehicles.
"Eh kawawa naman sila. Gusto lang naman nila tumulong sa tao tapos ganyan ang nangyari," the former mayor said.
The 2 said they have already collected P800,000 from politicians, businessmen and parishioners at Quiapo Church. Some parishioners gave only a few coins while others gave in the thousands.
"Kapag nagbigay ka naman kasi sa simbahan, alam mong babalik din sa iyo."
Monsignor Juanito Figura, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said they will still study if the bishops should still accept donations from other politicians.
The seven bishops came under fire for receiving financial aid and utility vehicles from the PCSO during the Arroyo administration. One prelate, Butuan City Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos, even requested a brand new Mitsubishi Montero from President Arroyo as a birthday gift in 2009.
Critics said President Arroyo used the donations to silence the Church while she faced off impeachment charges.
Last Wednesday, the 7 bishops said they will return the vehicles to the PCSO. With a report from Niko Baua, ABS-CBN News