MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Catholic bishops have expressed support to whistleblower Heidi Mendoza, the former state auditor who testified in the House on Tuesday that she was asked by a government agency to go easy on former military comptroller Carlos Garcia, who is accused of plunder.
Twenty bishops have signed a one-page manifesto backing Mendoza and other whistleblowers in opposing the plea bargain agreement made by the Office of the Ombudsman and Garcia, as well as other instances of corruption, reported the CBCP News in its website.
The bishops also singled out former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo, former Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio, and retired Lt. Col. George Rabusa for their “lay leadership” in the fight against corruption.
“As bishops, we support and encourage such people. We are with Mendoza in speaking out against abuse of office that impoverishes the people and harm the common good,” said the bishops.
They also cited the media and lawmakers for not giving up on seeking the truth regarding the matter.
“This is an opportunity for us to get our acts together inspired by courageous men and women who stand up for the truth for the good of our nation,” the bishops said.
In the manifesto, the bishops asked President Benigno Aquino III and the Sandiganbayan to continue reviewing and investigating the controversial plea bargain agreement.
“We implore his Excellency, Benigno Aquino III, to critically review the decision of the Ombudsman in the plunder chargers against Garcia. We likewise call on the Sandiganbayan to pursue the case in the interest of transparency and restoration of public trust,” the bishops said.
The manifesto was signed by the following bishops:
- Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma
- Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila
- Auxiliary Bishop Bernardino Cortez of Manila
- Auxiliary Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of Jaro
- Auxiliary Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Cotabato
- Bishop Romulo dela Cruz of Kidapawan
- Bishop Edgardo Juanich of Taytay
- Bishop Emmanuel Trance of Catarman
- Bishop Artemio Rillera of La Union
- Auxiliary Bishop Roberto Mallari of San Fernando
- Bishop Joseph Nacua of Ilagan
- Bishop Rolando Tirona of Infanta
- Bishop Marlo Peralta of Alaminos
- Bishop Crispin Varquez of Borongan
- Bishop Martin Jumoad of Basilan
- Bishop Joel Baylon of Legaspi
- Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez of Caloocan
- Bishop Antonio Tobias of Novaliches
- Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon, and
- Bishop Rodolfo Beltran of Bontoc-Lagawe