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False begging letter angers Manila Archdiocese

Church in Philippine capital denies seeking financial aid after bishop tests positive for Covid-19

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False begging letter angers Manila Archdiocese

Former drug dependents attend a Mass in Manila Cathedral in this file photo. Manila Archdiocese has denied issuing a letter asking for donations of money so that clergymen can be tested for Covid-19 (Photo: Maria Tan/AFP)

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Manila Archdiocese denied on July 28 being responsible for a letter asking for financial assistance for coronavirus swab testing for the clergy and staff of Manila Cathedral.

The letter emerged after Manila's top prelate admitted he had tested positive for the virus.

The denial came after a hospital received what it claimed was a solicitation letter from priests at Manila Cathedral.

“We were informed that a letter was sent to a hospital in Lipa City, Batangas [south of Manila], supposedly signed by us, Fathers Reginald Malicdem and Kali Llamado, asking for financial assistance for Covid-19 swab testing ... This is a FAKE letter and our signatures are also fake,” Manila Archdiocese said in a statement.

The archdiocese said there was also someone claiming to be Father Llamado asking for donations from churchgoers.

“This … is a fake and a scam. Please be wary of these kinds of letters or requests for financial assistance,” the archdiocese statement said.

Manila Cathedral posted the fake email address and cellphone number used to contact churchgoers for donations on social media.

The letter said that Manila apostolic administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo had tested positive for coronavirus., which the prelate had admitted last week.

It also asked for donations for the clergy and staff who had come into close contact with the bishop.

The letter also told churchgoers that swab tests were not covered by the national health insurance costing 8,000 pesos (US$160) each.

“We humbly ask for your prayers and possible financial assistance for the possible expenses that will not be covered by the PhilHealth [Philippine Health Insurance Corp.] guidelines such as medicines and other particulars,” the letter said.

The letter said that there were 15 employees, including five clergymen, who would undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine to avoid local transmission of the virus.

It authorized an individual to “transact” and to “receive” donations on behalf of the archdiocese.

The church’s social arm, Caritas Manila, meanwhile, has warned the public to report and to double check all solicitation letters claiming to be from dioceses across the country asking for financial assistance.

“I urge the public to be vigilant against unscrupulous groups or individuals collecting money for bishops or for church projects. We have a protocol regarding all solicitation letters,” said Father Rene Lorilla of Caritas Manila.

He said all such letters must be signed or noted by the bishop and must be verified in the local diocese.

“Recipients should always double check with a diocese if a solicitation letter is true or not,” Father Lorilla told UCA News.

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