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The bishops who received luxury vehicles reportedly bought from Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds became “sacrificial lambs" in the exposè on the alleged misuse of the agency’s fund, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said on Sunday. Monsignor Pedro Quitorio, CBCP media office director, said the issue involving the “Pajero bishops," who received luxury vehicles worth P6.9 million, was just a “small" part in the entire controversy on the PCSO’s funds. “Naging sacrificial lamb ang mga obispo. Itong sinasabi nila, kung totoo man, na may P6 million na aid para sa mga mahihirap, sa likod nito may milyones na kinakailangan daw ayon sa Senate hearing na maipailawanang," he said in a GMA News interview.
Quitorio was referring to the P325-million PCSO intelligence fund that had almost doubled in 2010, an election year. In last Wednesday’s hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee, PCSO chairperson Margie Juico identified three Catholic Church officials who had received luxury vehicles, including a Mitsubishi Montero Sport worth P1.7 million, from PCSO funds. One of these prelates, Butuan Bishop Juan De Dios Pueblos, had even requested the vehicle for his 66th birthday from then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The bishop has admitted to receiving the car, but insisted that it was used to serve poor people in his area. The CBCP official said the Senate probe should focus on the misuse of this intelligence fund instead of the issue involving the bishops. “Parang it’s just a drop in the bucket. Sa halip na ang pagtuunan ng pansin ang mall, ang napagtuunan mo ng pansin ang sari-sari store. Sobrang liit," Quitorio said. The bishops involved in the scandal are expected to attend the continuation of the Senate probe on Wednesday. — MRT/KBK, GMA News