MANILA, Philippines – Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago suffered from high blood pressure on Wednesday after giving a speech defending Catholic bishops who received funds from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to purchase vehicles, one of her staff revealed.
Santiago’s blood pressure shot up to 160 over 100 after she spoke during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the alleged misuse of PCSO funds.
In her speech, Santiago said the utility vehicles bought by the Catholic bishops from the money given by PCSO during the time of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo were used for community and health programs.
She expressed dismay over the criticism received by the bishops, saying they did not violate any law.
She also blew her top after learning that no Mitsubishi Pajeros, as earlier reported, were indeed given to the 7 Catholic bishops.
These seven prelates have been tagged as “Pajero 7," based on initial information supposedly provided by PCSO chair Margie Juico to the media.
Based on PCSO records, the following bishops received vehicles: Butuan City Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos (Mitsubishi Montero), Bontoc-Lagawe Bishop Rodolfo Beltran (Nissan Pathfinder), Abra Bishop Leopoldo Jaucian (Mitsubishi Strada), Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo (Toyota Grandia Hi-Ace), Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad (Mitsubishi Strada), Zamboanga Archbishop Romulo Valles (Toyota Grandia Hi-Ace); and Nueva Segovia Archbishop Ernesto Salgado (Isuzu Crosswind).
Santiago, who was reported to be experiencing hypertension during the past days, is now resting in her house.
Meanwhile, 4 of the 7 vehicles have already been returned to the PCSO headquarters.
They were received by PCSO General Manager for Corporate planning Benigno Aguas. – report from Ruby Tayag, dzMM