PCSO, COA execs to discuss bishops' vehicles

By Sheryll Mundo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 30 2011 01:04 AM | Updated as of Jun 30 2011 06:15 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and the Commission on Audit (COA) will meet to determine if there is a need for several bishops to return the vehicles that were given to them by the PCSO and approved by the previous board.

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

"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," Tolentino said.

COA documents showed that 4x4 vehicles were given to Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos of Butuan, Rev. Orlando Quevedo, archbishop of Cotabato, and Msgr. Augusto Laban of Sorsogon.

De Dios Pueblos' vehicle cost more than P1.7 million, according to COA documents.

Quevedo, meanwhile, allegedly received a vehicle worth around P1.4 million.

"I appeal to Your Excellency for a service vehicle which will be used mainly to transport the poor and indigent parishioners who are in need of medical help and services in the nearby and remote areas of the parish," Laban said in a letter to Arroyo.

Quevedo has denied recieving a service vehicle from Malacañang. In a text message, he said he is only using an Innova and a pick-up truck as service vehicles, which were reportedly donated from Germany.

Meanwhile, former PCSO official Manoling Morato said there is nothing wrong in giving vehicles to some bishops.

"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 parishoners," Morato said.