By ROGER M. BALANZA
In a message heavily loaded with political undertones, Philippine Catholic archbishops called for an investigation into allegations of corruption in the government’s handling of the multi-billion-peso Covid-19 pandemic response fund under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The call by the Catholic archbishops in Northern Luzon expressed in a pastoral letter, comes following reports by state auditors, the Senate, and the media, of misspending by the budget department’s procurement service.
The Procurement Services of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) is reported as behind the allegedly anomalous award of a multi-billion-peso contract to supply anti-coronavirus medical equipment and supplies to a questionable company financed by a former economic adviser of President Rodrigo Duterte.
We commend, bless, and encourage the full investigation, by those in authority, of any whiff of corruption; as we also reproach, rebuke, and censure those who obstruct the legal process to arrive at truth and justice,” said the pastoral letter issued on Saturday, September 11, by the Metropolitan Archbishops of Northern Luzon, signed by Nueva Segovia Archbishop Marlo Peralta, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, and Tuguegarao Archbishop Ricardo Baccay.
The pastoral message also took a shot at rampant killings, that made conditions inthe country “like living in the valley of death.”
“Killing of drug users and opponents; helpless death in the pandemic, death by governance without vision, death by shameless corruption that seems to break all records. Killings! Murders! Deaths!” said the message posted on the website of CBCP News, the news service of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippinese.
“Viruses kill. Governance without direction kills. Corruption kills. Trolls kill with fake news. Hunger kills. When will the killings stop? The poor pay for the corruption of the powerful. The nation is sinking in debt,” said the archbishops.
“Journalists have been killed, political opponents have been murdered, court judges have been assassinated, priests have been shot and critics have been bullied and threatened. The killers are at large and the blind supporters of these murderers applaud the killers,” said the pastoral message.
“This is not the time for despair but courage. This is not the time to be quiet but to stand up for God. Against the tide of murders and plunder, let us bear witness to truth and life,” the archbishops added.