Philippine Bishops Return Vehicles Donated by Government
VOA Breaking News
July 13, 2011 at 10:10 am
Roman Catholic bishops in the Philippines embroiled in a controversy involving allegedly inappropriate donations from a government agency have returned vehicles paid for with government charity funds.
The sports utility vehicles were donated by the government's lottery agency during the administration of former President Gloria Arroyo. Critics say the vehciles came in exchange for the bishops' support for Ms. Arroyo during her political battles.
For their part, the seven bishops said they requested the vehicles to reach remote parts of their dioceses, and deny any wrongdoing.
The national lottery's charity office paid for the cars, but many politicians and the news media have questioned whether that violated laws against the government showing favor to any religious group.
Last week, the chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference said in a letter to the Philippine Senate that “our conscience is clear.” The bishops have said the cars were used for secular charity work.
But Cotobato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo has said the bishops did not foresee the possibility that the church would be dragged into controversy for accepting the vehicles.
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