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Solon: SUV gift may lead to more raps vs Gloria Arroyo

Granting a bishop’s birthday request using public funds may mean a possible additional graft charge for former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo, a lawmaker said Sunday. Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares also advised Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos to return the sport-utility vehicle he received from Arroyo using Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds. “It’s a personal gift, for a birthday... pero ginamit ang public funds. That’s additional [na kaso] laban kay Arroyo kaso," Colmenares said in an interview on dzBB radio. He hinted the possible new case against Arroyo may cite the anti-graft law. But Colmenares added it is still unclear if this may constitute a possible charge against Pueblos, who is perceived to be close to Arroyo. Pueblos had called on incumbent President Benigno Aquino III to resign, criticizing Aquino for appointing friends and allies to government positions. The prelate had also criticized Aquino for supposedly treating with kid gloves those who get embroiled in controversies. “That is something that has to be studied (but) the bishop knew it was a personal request," Colmenares said when asked if Pueblos can be held liable. When asked if Pueblos should return the SUV, he said, “definitely." “Dapat na-clarify niya [Pueblos] na, 'Madame President, personal ang hiling ko sa inyo, kagandahang loob ninyo, hindi ng gobyerno'," Colmenaries said. Colmenares also reiterated that while the Church can still access funds for charity work, it cannot accept gifts – much less ask for gifts – from the president. Meanwhile, the CBCP Permanent Council is now investigating the matter. A report on dzBB radio said the council may come out with its findings as early as Monday. — LBG, GMA News