Friday, July 12, 2013

Not us, Bulacan clergy says of priests getting gov’t pay

By Dino Balabo

MALOLOS CITY—The Diocese of Malolos disclaimed news reports that Bishop Jose Oliveros and priests of the diocese are receiving honoraria from the provincial government.

As this developed, actor turned politician Vice Gov. Daniel Fernando admitted that he had 20 of the reported 72 consultants, leaving 52 to Gov. Wilhelmino Alvarado who remained mum as of press time.

Other provincial official defended the hiring of consultants at the Capitol saying that local government units are allowed to do so.

In a one page statement issued on Wednesday, the Diocese of Malolos said,” the Roman Catholic Church of Malolos, clarifies that the bishops and priests referred to in the aforementioned report are not the Roman Catholic Bishop of Malolos and not the Clergy of the Diocese of Malolos. The phrase “Bulacan bishops and priests” should not be understood as the Clergy of the Catholic Church in Bulacan.”

The said statement was signed by Father Dario Cabral, the chair of the Commission on Social Communications of the diocese.

Cabral said that they conducted their own investigation and it was found that bishops and priests who receive monthly honoraria from the Provincial Capitol came from different sects within the province of Bulacan.

In its statement, the diocese even identified a bishop from another sect, one Ephraim Perez, who “presents himself as the bishop of the Christian Catholic Church,” a small sect within Bulacan and became a consultant of the provincial jail.

Perez, the statement said “used to receive P20,000 to P25,000 a month.”

According to Cabral, if the clergy of the Diocese of Malolos engaged themselves in any way with the provincial government, it is in the “work of ministry.” 

“We do hereby disclaim the news that the Bishop of Malolos, Most. Rev. Jose F. Oliveros, D.D. and the clergy of Malolos receive honoraria from the provincial government of Bulacan,” the statement said.

For his part, Vice-Governor Fernando admitted that he had 20 out of the reported 72 consultants of the provincial government.

However, he clarified that those consultants which includes lawyers, and doctors are not his personal consultants, but of the entire sangguniang panlalawigan.

One of those identified by Fernando is former Vice-Gov. Aurelio Plamenco who is receiving P35,000 a month.

With regards to pastors and priests as consultants, Fernando said he did not have any, but also admitted that some pastors sought assistance from him.

He also clarified “love gifts” he handed to pastors are part of his earning as an actor noting that he recently became more active in filming independent films and teleseryes.

With regards to the length of services of consultants, Senior Board Member Michael Fermin clarified that they can be terminated anytime.

“They are contractual, and their services are only as long as they are needed,” Fermin said.

He also explained that local government units are allowed to hire consultants based on their experience and expertise.

Bu news stories citing a Commission on Audit (COA) report said that some consultants hired by the provincial government are high school graduates and do not possess educational qualifications and work experience required by their work assignments.