Following reports that some bishops are going to appear after the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) controversy, the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP) urged the Senate not to treat the bishops any differently from ordinary people subjected to senate investigations.
Elizabeth Angsioco, DSWP National Chairperson, stressed that while all the rights of the bishops should be respected, they are also citizens subject to the laws of the land.
Angsioco urged the senators not go soft on them just because they are bishops. She said, “the Constitution, as well as our other laws covers ALL Filipinos, bishops included. The investigation should ascertain if the bishops, by soliciting money from the PCSO to buy vehicles, have violated the law.”
DSWP is a group of women advocates working in the grassroots communities.
Angsioco said that since the investigation is done ‘in aid of legislation’ Senators will not only look into how PCSO should be able to effectively help our people who are in dire need, but also ensure that constitutional provision should be truly enforced.
Quoting a constitutional provision that says, “no public money or property shall be appropriated, applied, paid, or employed, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution, or system or religion, or of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher….” Angsioco stressed that the bishops, in doing what they did, undermined this provision of the constitution.
Moreover, bishops also violated the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) policy against soliciting or accepting money from gambling, whether legal or illegal, even if this is to be used to help the poor. “Worst,” Angsioco added, “they deprived other people in dire need, those who could put the money given them in saving lives.”
She said that the Philippine Roman Catholic Church is a multi-billionaire church. Its various entities have at least 20Billion pesos in stocks of 7 corporations alone.
Angsioco laments, “the money they used to buy the controversial vehicles is a pittance compared to the billions they have idly lying in stocks. If they needed the vehicles, they could very well afford to buy even a thousand of those.”
“In fact, instead of competing against the poor for government money, the Roman Catholic Church should actually significantly help government in addressing urgent needs of poor Catholics,” she ended. Rhoda V. Avila, DSWP