Churches that took PCSO money named

by Sheryll Mundo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 30 2011 07:56 PM | Updated as of Jul 01 2011 03:10 PM

MANILA - The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) wants recipients of more than P6 million deducted from its charity funds to be held liable for violating the law.

PCSO board director, Atty. Aleta Tolentino, said a 2009 Commission on Audit report showed there were several checks representing the amount that were taken from the charity fund.

She said P1.44 million was given to the Archdiocese of Cotabato for the purchase of a service vehicle, P1.5 million went to the Zamboanga Archdiocesan Social Action Apostolate, P720,000 was given to Caritas Nueva Segovia, P1.125 million to the Roman Catholic Prelate of Isabela, Basilan and P1.7 million to the Diocese of Butuan.

"Based on the COA report, may violation ng Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act). Siguro kung may kasalanan ang bishops, dapat parusahan sila. We should be God-fearing, not bishop-fearing," she said.

Tolentino added the previous PCSO board should also be held liable.

"Sila ang in charge to take care of the funds of PCSO, they are mandated to see to it that there is prudent utilization of the funds," she said.

Tolentino, PCSO chairperson Margie Juico, and other PCSO board members have been summoned by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to shed light on the controversy.

"Kailangan maimbestigahan ang PCSO dahil pera ito ng bayan at dapat malaman kung may katotohanan ba sa mga alegasyon na nalustay ang pondo," Blue Ribbon committee chairman Teofisto 'TG' Guingona said.

If the PCSO is determined to hold everybody who benefitted from the funds accountable, Guingona does not see the need for the bishops to be summoned.

"Let's see how the story plays out first. We will ask them to comment or we could invite them, but we will not force them to attend."