Bishop Villegas denounces alleged misuse of COVID-19 funds

Published October 23, 2021, 2:21 PM

by Analou de Vera

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan (CBCP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas denounced the alleged inappropriate use of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response funds.

“We cannot but be appalled by credible reports about dishonesty, graft and malfeasance in scandalous proportions, particularly because these despicable acts exploited the fears of our people occasioned by the COVID pandemic,” said Villegas in a “Pastoral Admonition.”

“Held in the grip of dread for the disease that has claimed so many lives, our people, already laid low by the economic privation brought about by the pandemic, were hoodwinked by those who exploited the situation for their profit,” he added.

Villegas urged concerned agencies to hold accountable those who were engaged in the alleged misuse of funds for the pandemic response.

“In the name of God, I admonish all who serve in the prosecution service to see to the prosecution of those who are liable for these egregious offenses against our people, who have enriched themselves at a time of want and of suffering, without fear and favor. It has often been said – and it bears repetition – that there is nothing that deters crime and wrongdoing more than the certainty of prosecution and punishment!,” he said.

“I admonish all who sit in judgment in our courts of law to be truly instruments of the vindication of our people’s rights. God has granted you a participation in his power as judge over peoples. Do justice in his name and allow not the scales of justice to be tilted in favor of power, wealth and the enticements of prestige,” he added.

Villegas also urged the faithful to “protest these acts of perfidy as vocally and persistently as possible.”

“There can be no room for neutrality. Between good and evil, there is no middle ground, and whoever is unwilling to condemn blatant injustice becomes its enabler. Whoever will not indict the thief becomes complicit with him!,” the prelate said.

The Senate is conducting an investigation on the alleged misuse of COVID-19 funds. In its preliminary report, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee recommended charges be filed against some government officials and officials of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.