The Bishops Speak
(Statement of Bishops before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. Four of the bishops who were at the Committee hearing on July 13 were from Mindanao: Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, Zamboanga Archbishop Romulo Valles, Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad and Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos)
Honorable Members of the Senate:
We thank this august body for inviting us to shed light on an issue that has deeply saddened not only the seven of us but all the Catholic faithful. We hope that our presence will aid your work of legislation. We shall reply with great respect to your questions as far as the facts enable us.
We are from provinces that have some of the most difficult areas that we as Bishops have to reach. Most of us are from calamity or conflict-stricken areas. We serve communities some of which are 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 of others, especially from those whose mandate is to provide assistance, particularly in health services and in charity. Some of us received service vehicles from PCSO that are heavy duty 4 x 4 pick-ups in order for our social, health, and charitable services to reach remote areas. Others received vehicles that have multiple purposes of bringing indigent sick people to hospitals or distribute food, medicines, and clothing to calamity stricken families.
We are very grateful for the help extended to us. We still believe that we have not violated any law, or even the Constitution. We express our sadness that our sincere desire to help people and receive necessary assistance for doing so has confused, disturbed and even scandalized many of the Catholic faithful. As our pastoral statement has said, we honestly “failed to consider the pitfalls to which these grants could possibly lead.” We also express our “readiness to do everything that is necessary to heal this wound so that we can all move forward in hope.”
For this reason, regardless of whether the acquisition of the vehicles has been lawful or unlawful, constitutional or unconstitutional, we are returning the vehicles. The vehicles in Mindanao are ready for immediate turnover to a duly authorized PCSO official. The vehicles in Luzon are right now outside the Senate for immediate turnover to PCSO officials.
Again, we thank Your Honors for this opportunity to voice our sentiments on this matter.
Thank you and God bless you.
Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, O.M.I.
Bishop Rodolfo Beltran
Bishop Martin Jumoad
Archbishop Ernesto Salgado
Bishop Leopoldo Jaucian, SVD
Archbishop Romulo Valles
Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos
July 13, 2011