July 8, 2011 – “There are no excuses for the use of the PCSO public funds by the bishops.PNoy’s statement to leave it to the parishioners is like saying everyone else can be made liable for their criminal acts except the bishops.The Catholic bishops’ robes should not be used as immunity from suit and imprisonment.There is no such thing.The bishops should pay back the full amount to the government because this money belongs to the Filipino people and not anyone else and the bishops and the government officials involved in the illegal use of funds should all be made criminally liable,” said Attorney Clara Rita A. Padilla, Executive Director of EnGendeRights.
Atty. Padilla said, “The excuse that the funds were used for the Catholic Church for its alleged charitable purpose is the primary reason why such public funds should not have been released by the PCSO to the bishops.”
The Constitution provides:
Section 29 paragraph 2, Article VI (Legislative Department): "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 of religion, or of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary as such, except when such priest, preacher, minister, or dignitary is assigned to the Armed Forces, or to any penal institution, or government orphanage or leprosarium.”
“This provision is in line with the constitutional guarantees of separation of church and state and non-establishment of religion. If these acts of the bishops are simply made to pass by the PNoy government, PNoy would be reneging on his daang matuwid and kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap promise,” stressed Atty. Padilla.
“It would seem that despite the 150 years since Jose Rizal was born during the Spanish regime that the Padre Damasos are still wielding their influence in governance and law.The brazen disregard of our Constitution by the Catholic bishops and the then PCSO officials should not be countenanced by the Filipino people.The PCSO public funds could have been used for reproductive health of Filipinos.One SUV alone costing 1.7 million could have provided access to over 11,000 poor Filipino women who wanted to be ligated by paying for their pain medication and anti-biotics for said procedure,” concluded Atty. Padilla.***