20 February 2008

Dragging the Church into the NBN-ZTE Scandal

A side event to the NBN-ZTE investigations, the latest scandal to hit the present administration (what does the opposition call it now, the "great-grandmother of all scams"?) was a not-often seen (or heard) public tussle between two Catholic Church leaders over the media. The repartee between "Running Priest" Father Robert Reyes and Bayombong Bishop Ramon Villena was aired last 15 February over ABS-CBN's early morning show, Umagang Kay Ganda. The article quoted below details the story.

I didn't get to watch the episode but several friends who did told me about it, and expressed how much they didn't like what "that priest" said: that certain bishops regularly receive "donations" from MalacaƱang, and they are the ones who would not want to say anything perceived as adversarial to their benefactor. Then I asked each of my friends if they thought what Father Robert said was true. Each of them, without exception, immediately stopped their protestations. Just like that. Interesting.

On a less controversial note, Father Albert Alejo. S.J.
proposes that this Lent, Church people reflect on integrity and corruption especially within the Church.Father Alejo's proposed Lenten reflection this year is both timely and on the right track. We may argue about the prudence of washing our dirty linens in public, especially at this time. Then again, who says this isn't the proper time for the Church to "reform ourselves and make good our belief in the Gospel"?

This NBN-ZTE scam has the makings of a cleansing fire for many of our institutions, including the Church. For one, it brings to the fore how much we in the Church "practice what we preach" and also how much we "avoid to preach what we fail to practice".


NBN-ZTE scandal creates mixed emotions by Al Jeratso

Mixed emotions have taken their toll on the role players, immediate family members and critics after the anomalous NBN-ZTE scandal erupted in the country's political atmosphere.

Not to be outfaced is the involvement of the Catholic Church in the scandal, that eventually resulted in the exchange of ginger shots between a popular running priest and a bishop in Nueva Ecija over ABS-CBN's early Friday morning program hosted by Mr. Anthony Taberna.


Similarly, running priest Father Robert Reyes has accused the Catholic Church hierarchy of receiving donations from the previous and present presidents of the Philippines. Reyes admitted to Anthony Taberna during the ABS-CBN early morning program that the president is donating huge sums of money to some of the Catholic congregations, which he did not elaborate. Reyes also said that he even received an offer during the time of President Cory Aquino for P100,000 but he declined to receive it.

As a result, Reyes' declaration had infuriated Nueva Ecija bishop Villena, thinking that he was the one being referred to by Father Reyes because he was on the other line during the early morning program. What Reyes said was that the hands of some Catholic Church officials are tied because some of them are receiving donations from top government officials.

According to Reyes, he wouldn't be surprised that until now the Catholic Church hierarchy has kept itself mum on where to stand on the corruption scandal, except the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) which issued a call for communal action on the scandal to resolve the matter peacefully without any bloodshed. Reyes was reminded of the late Cardinal Sin who receives donations from government officials but get back at them when they did wrong to the hapless people. "This is not the case nowadays," Reyes said.

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