ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Vice President Jejomar Binay on Thursday said he sees nothing wrong with Catholic bishops receiving government funds to purchase vehicles.
In Zamboanga City for the launching of a Pabahay Caravan, Binay said the vehicles and items bought using Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds are used for the poor and not for the personal use of bishops.
Binay said the funds that have been given to some bishops allow the clergy to fulfill their social obligation.
Binay, however, also said he is awaiting the result of the Senate inquiry on the PCSO controversies so he can respond to questions on whether it was wrong or right for the church to receive the funds.
Binay distributed housing grants to beneficiaries in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and decent houses for informal settlers in and Zamboanga City.
Zamboanga City Archbishop Romulo Valles and Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad earlier defended the donations from PCSO, saying they are prepared to justify the use of these funds.
They said they purchased vehicles using PCSO grants and that these purchases were for the interest of the people, not of their personal benefit.
Members of activist group Akbayan in Zamboanga City, meanwhile, called the bishops' act of receiving such fund as "immoral."
Akbayan said it is the moral obligation of bishops who received such grants to return these to the national government.
Edgar Araojo, regional coordinator of Akbayan in Zamboanga Peninsula, said that while some Catholics see nothing wrong with this practice, he claimed that bishops knew it was wrong.
Araojo said the principle of separation of church and state in the Constitution must be upheld.