Morato defends giving luxury vehicles to Catholic bishops

By Sheryll Mundo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 29 2011 05:26 PM | Updated as of Jun 30 2011 01:31 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A former chairman of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office on Wednesday said there is nothing wrong with the PCSO's decision to give luxury vehicles to several Catholic bishops.

In an interview, former PCSO chief Manoling Morato defended PCSO's decision to give luxury vehicles to several bishops during the Arroyo administration.

"Anong masama doon? It was used with noble intentions. Matagal ng partner ng PCSO ang church. Hindi naman nagpupunta ng night club ang mga pari kaya makakasiguro tayo na ginagamit ito to attend to the needs of their parishioners," Morato said.

The PCSO is set to meet with officials of the Commission on Audit (COA) to determine if there is a need for several bishops to return the 4x4 vehicles they received from the PCSO, which were approved by the previous board.

PCSO Director Atty. Aleta Tolentino said based on a COA report, it is clear that giving the service vehicles to the bishops violated the PCSO's charter and it is against the law as well.

"Sa COA report, lumalabas dun na 5 vehicles amounting to P6.9 million were granted to Catholic church archdioceses and were charged to the charity fund contrary to Article VI, Section 29 of the 1987 constitution, which states that no public money or property shall be appropriated,applied,paid or employed,directly or indirectly for the use or benefit of any sect, church," she said.

COA documents showed a 4x4 vehicle was given to Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos of Butuan, Rev. Orlando Quevedo, Archbishop of Cotabato; and Msgr. Augusto Laban of Sorsogon.

PCSO Chair Margarita Juico earlier claimed former President Gloria Arroyo had given 6 or 7 Mitsubishi Pajeros to bishops before she stepped down from office to get their support.

Bishop Teodoro Bacani has called on the bishops who allegedly got Mitsubishi Pajeros from the Arroyo administration to come out in the open.

He said they should clarify to the public if the vehicle was given as a personal gift or something for the use of their respective dioceses.

Bacani said he has no idea as to who allegedly got the vehicles from the PCSO but admitted that it is one of the institutions where the Church gets donations.

"Ang PCSO kasi, talagang tumatanggap kami ng donasyon galing diyan dahil hindi ito itinuturing na galing sa masama, lalo na nung sweepstakes pa lang ito at wala gaanong objection unlike kung galing ito sa PAGCOR [Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.] o sa jueteng, dapat no-no talaga,” Bacani said.