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ImageThis is the official response of the Bishop of Paranaque Most Rev. Jesse Mercado regarding the alleged financial misappropriation as reported in Rappler. 

 Allegations and our Responses: 

1.      Donations not reaching intended beneficiaries. P3.2M diverted to diocesan fund and invested

Response:  Donations are regularly remitted to the intended beneficiaries. In urgent cases, e.g., Ondoy and Sendong, the Diocese even advanced the amounts even before the second collections were mandated. Some parishes remit too late, so these funds are added to the calamity fund.

The Muntinlupa fire victims were aided by the Vicariate. [When the Parish needs help, the Vicariate takes over. When the Vicariate needs help, the Diocese takes over.]

2.      Not funding social programs

Response:  Social programs are funded according to the budget policies of the diocese in order to avoid wastage of funds. Funds are thus usually released in tranches. Proper liquidation is required before new tranches are released precisely in order to ensure that the funds get to the intended beneficiaries.

3.      No money for programs

Response: There is money for programs. The funds are allocated only to projects that are worthwhile and only if they are positively recommended by their parish priests so that they are integrated into the parish program.

4.      P225,000 from PCSO stopped when Pres. Aquino came into power

Response: It was Bp. Jess who decided not to accept PCSO aid after the Senate probe on PCSO aid to Dioceses, so that government aid would not draw the Diocese into politics. It is the Diocese who now pays for the medicines for the poor formerly funded by the PCSO aid. The funds are taken from the Caritas Sunday collection.

5.      those who question financial management are either floated or replaced

a.      e.g. Muntinlupa parish priest who headed pastoral department removed as co-signatory of livelihood project for workers in Tunasan

Response: The Tunasan project was examined by the Parish Priest, who found irregularities. He therefore did not recommend it to the Bishop. However, who is the Muntinlupa parish priest mentioned by the author?

b.      five priests left the priesthood out of frustration and desperation

Response: Who are these priests? Those who left in the first 10 years of the Diocese left for personal reasons (e.g., sexual misconduct, fathering children).

c.      some have low morale and are thinking of leaving the priesthood

Response:  Why is their morale low? Bp. Jess and their fellow priests are always willing to help them.

d.      lay leaders who sought transparency are regarded as dissenters and are slowly being eased out of diocese’ affairs.

Response:  Who are these lay leaders? No one is       being “eased out”.

6.      Quick to pardon priests who misappropriated Church funds, e.g., Msgr. Valenzuela – uncovered by Msgr. Gabriel in 2004. Instead of punishing Valenzuela however, Mercado simply terminated him as school director and barred him from having any assignments within the diocese. P10M declared uncollectible in October 2011. Msgr. Valenzuela allowed to resume his priestly duties in NY.

Response: The Diocese adopted many financial controls precisely because of incidences of bad investment, misappropriation, misrepresentation, etc.

Does Msgr. Valenzuela’s termination, floating status and exile not constitute punishment? He is no longer entitled to pension and hospitalization. Is this not punishment?

The declaration of P10M as uncollectible was recommended by the audit of St. Andrew’s School. After demanding for closure of the issue, why are they complaining that this closure was achieved?

On the distorted reporting on OGF sharing.

Response: The personal sharings of priests during meetings like the Ongoing Formation Seminar should be respected. To breach this confidentiality (usapang pari) is a betrayal of mutual respect and trust.

The personal problems of priests are being dealt with by balancing justice and mercy. Priests who make mistakes but want to be helped are rehabilitated. Their reputation is protected. Nevertheless, this does not prevent some from undermining their own reputation by talking about their own situation as if they are being persecuted.

Inaccuracies:

12% remitted by parishes, 1% for health insurance, 1% for retirement

10% estimated to be P15M

57 parishes

Response:  There are only 51 parishes, quasi-parish and national shrines in the Diocese. 10% of gross receipts of parishes are remitted to the Diocesan Fund of which majority is given to catechetical fund (c/o RCAM), investment for the retirement of priests, curia operations, clergy retreats, and clergy ongoing formation and outing. 2% of gross receipts go to the hospitalization and health services of priests.

Called mobile to no avail 

Response:  Aries Rufo contacted the Bishop’s office in order to interview him about the Natural Family Planning program of the Diocese. He was of course referred to the Chairman of the Diocesan Commission on Family and Life. He never contacted the Chairman.

Rappler’s disrespectful ways!

AND this is the link to the transcript of the interview of the really impolite and disrespectful reporter from Rappler. What a Jackass. No one has the right to talk to a Bishop or to anyone that holds an honorable position that way especially since he is just a reporter who is supposed to be impartial, with allegations that have not yet been proven. Even high profile, mainstream media reporters temper their demeanor when interviewing a Bishop. It is obvious that this fellow has an axe to grind.

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I take issue with this Rufo fellow and I would ask all persons who have some sense of decency to voice out their disgust at his behavior by emailing the editor of Rappler, Maria Ressa at maria.ressa@rappler.com!

 

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