MANILA, Philippines - Pro-life advocates on Wednesday called for the immediate resignation of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Chairman Margie Juico for erroneously accusing Catholic bishops of receiving Mitsubishi Pajeros bought with PCSO funds.
Pro-Life member Baby Nebrida said Juico's apology to the bishops is not enough especially after putting the bishops in a bad light.
"This has caused so much pain for the bishops and the Church. She should resign," Nebrida said.
Former PCSO chairman Manoling Morato, who has been engaged in a word war with Juico, agreed with the resignation call. He said President Aquino should fire not just Juico but the rest of the current PCSO officials.
"Hindi biro ang ginawa nila na pag-awayin ang gobyerno at simbahan. [Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines] pa ang inatake nila. Kung ako si President Aquino I will fire them all. Di sapat yun sorry niya. The damage has already been done," he said.
He added Juico should not pass the blame to the media and claim that she was misquoted.
"Tatlong news reports hindi pwede magkamali. Sinabi nya talaga iyon Pajero. Sa kanila galing yan. They are enjoying the scandal. Kapal ng mukha na bastusin ang mga obispo," he said.
For her part, Juico believes this would not affect or have an impact on the credibility of the PCSO. She said the bishops still received vehicles such as Mitsubishi Monteros, Strada and Isuzu Crosswind
"Hindi naman siguro ito makakaapekto kasi brand lang naman ang mali but yung fact that they got vehicles tama naman. Kung nagkaroon man ito ng stigma sa mga bishop, it is unfortunate but we have to move on," she said.
Juico told senators Wednesday that she could not recall saying that the ex-PCSO Board gave out Pajeros to the bishops. She said she had corrected the information many times in media interviews and even in the Senate.
"We never said Pajero. We got this finding from Commission on Audit that 5 vehicles costing P6.9 million given to the Catholic Church were charged to the charity fund. The name Pajero did not come from us. It came about when somebody said it was Pajero. I don't recall saying Pajeros. I think it was information given to us by one of the managers from PCSO that utility vehicles [were] given to bishops," she said.
"Somebody in PCSO told me it was a Pajero and that got spun around. I made a correction when I finally got the documents. It's like when you say you bought a Frigidaire, when you mean a refrigerator. You say 'Pajero' when you mean SUV. I think that was how that impression came up," she added.
Sen. Teofisto Guingona, Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman, believes Juico should not resign.
"In fairness, we can't even pinpoint where it started if it was from the media or PCSO. Maybe next time media and government officials should be very careful with their statements," he said.