MANILA, Philippines - A Catholic bishop came to the defense of his colleagues and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo over the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds.
Pampanga Archbishop Paciano Aniceto saw nothing wrong with the donations of the PCSO to the Catholic Church, saying it is unfortunate that the ongoing controversy has marred the partnership between the Church and State.
Aniceto said the Church has been helping the state in its work for the poor as a conduit.
Aniceto is known to be close to Arroyo.
Several Catholic bishops have come under fire for allegedly receiving luxury vehicles from the PCSO. Several Catholic bishops who received PCSO funds to buy sports utility vehicles (SUVs) have offered to return the cars to the government.
Bishops Deogracias Yñiguez and Teodoro Bacani reserved comment on the matter till after the plenary meeting of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) over the weekend.
Yñiguez said the PCSO issue will definitely be discussed during the matter. The bishops involved have been asked to attend.
The bi-annual plenary meeting is set this weekend at the Pius 12th Catholic Center in Manila.
The plenary will begin 8:30 a.m. It will be preceded by a Mass at 6:30 a.m. and a group photo opportunity.
The plenary is usually done beyond closed doors.
A press conference is expected on Monday morning.
Bishops from all over the country arrived in Manila earlier in the week.
They attended other activities, including the 50th anniversary of the Mother Butler’s Guild.