Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mitsubishops (Once And For All)

"They are trying to cover up bigger multi-billion peso anomalies in the PCSO and PAGCOR, and they have conveniently found a scapegoat in the CBCP because, you know, it makes a sensational headline," Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said at the Senate hearing last Wednesday. On that same occasion, PCSO Chairman Margie Juico cleared that no Mitsubishi Pajeros were given to the 7 bishops. Juico also told senators that the news that all 7 bishops received SUVs could have come from an anonymous PCSO employee who was interviewed by journalists.

So, having heard those words coming from the two distinguished ladies, do the media, those in print and in broadcast including on-line news sites, maliciously sensationalized the 2009 COA report? In a way, I think so. But can we solely blame them? Nope. Because it seems nowadays, nobody wants to hear good and inspiring news anymore. We, the opinionated citizens (and netizens) are no longer interested in what the Church is doing in helping her needy flocks, regardless of their religious affiliation. The secular media do not appreciate anymore what the Church is doing in times of calamities, both man-made and natural, here and abroad. We are all gaga over news laced with scandals and intrigues especially if it concerns men of cloth. We generalize them most of the time.

Last Wednesday at the Senate, Cotobato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo emphasized, "We are from the provinces that have some of the most difficult areas that we, as bishop, have to reach. Most of us are from calamity- or conflict-stricken areas. We serve communities with some of the poorest of the poor. Our vocation is to help them in so far as we can with our resources. When we lack resources, we seek the assistance from others." Generally, the Catholic Church in the Philippines is not wealthy as her critics claim. Far from the pastor-centered protestant churches, say, in the US, that personally owns the temporal goods (read: assets) of their churches, our bishops and priests does not personally own them. Her assets are owned by the particular Christian community for the use of their pastoral and social programs. The late Jaime Cardinal Sin, for example, died poor and did not bequeath to his relatives the assets of the whole Archdiocese of Manila. An editorial of CBCP Monitor, Vol. 15; No. 13, has this to say: “….[I]t is not even correct to lump the Catholic Church as wealthy as if it were a centrally managed organization (like Iglesia ni Kristo is) because each of the 86 ecclesiastical jurisdictions in the country is independent from each other. While a few dioceses in the country maybe well-off financially, the majority is not. The Diocese of Borongan (in Eastern Samar), for instance, has a number of parishes that barely make both ends meet.” Here in our Vicariate, out of our 17 parishes, only 4 are in a way financially capable and the rest are considered "poor". Therefore, it is a wrong perception to say that the Church is wealthy so she does not need financial help anymore from sources outside of the Church. She needs mission partners in her community-based programs like livelihood projects and relief and rehabilitation and other advocacies like anti-mining and pro-environment endeavors, peace efforts and issues concerning the indigenous peoples.

Allow me to cite an example of partnership between of the Church and the LGUs featured in the June 6-19, 2011 edition of CBCP Monitor. To pave the way to combat insurgency by providing livelihood to the needy constituents in Bukidnon, Gov. Alex Calingasan has tapped the help of the clergy of Diocese of Malaybalay to assist in the implementation of a livelihood program. It is part of the peace initiative jointly managed and implemented by the local government and church leaders of said province. In a forum attended by Malaybalay Bishop Jose Araneta-Cabantan and Cagayan De Oro Bishop Antonio Ledesma last June 1, 2011, Calingasan admitted that he is not satisfied with the result of his livelihood projects for, according to him, it did not improve the economic status of the people and still, poverty lurks in the countryside.

Calingasan saw that the church has direct connection with the people, even in the remotest areas through the church’s various apostolates, organizations and Basic Ecclesial Communities or BECs. He said, “People tend to trust the clergy’s sincerity in the implementation of the program rather than us politicians whom they think they could pay back during elections…Tapping the church’s help may give this initiative more meaning to the people and they might value it to sustain their livelihood, unlike in the past where most recipients just squandered the money given to them and remain poor.” As we all know, all of the socio-economic and livelihood projects of the church are delivered with corresponding formations and the funds only comes next. By the way, Gov. Alex Calingasan is not a Catholic, he is a devout Baptist.

Well, on the recent PCSO issue, there are two things the government and the church has to take independently. For the legislative bodies or lawmakers, to do something towards the revisit or review of these 3 constitutional provisions: Section 6; Article III, Section 5; and Article VI, Section 5.

On the other hand, for the bishops, to collectively, as they have proposed on their statement “A Time of Pain, A Time of Grace”, (Which is by the way, to be read in all of the Catholic churches in Occidental Mindoro come Sunday) “ the manner of our collaboration with government agencies for purposes of helping the poor, making sure that pastoral sensibilities are respected and the highest ethical standards are observed.” And finally make a uniform, implementable and clear-cut policy NOT to accept or solicit anything from gambling.

And please include donations or gifts from a commonly perceived pro-gambling (i.e. pro-STL, pro Lotto) political leader and even politicians who are compulsive gamblers or those believed to be running gambling operations…

(Photo : VoxBikol)

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