A bishop and multimillion-peso donations

About a month after being installed into power, President Corazon Aquino, together with Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile and Sin, sought for public donations to help restore the damaged Radio Veritas station in Malolos. As reported by The New York Times on March 17, 1986,  the three EDSA 1 heroes sought P50 million in pledges during a day-long marathon broadcast.

This was not the first time that Radio Veritas raised money from public donations. In August 1983, following the assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr.,  it appealed for funds because it had exceeded its budget for the extended coverage of Aquino’s assassination. Buhain raised P1 million for this.

In pleading for donations, Cory Aquino paid tribute to Radio Veritas’s role in installing her into power. “The voice of truth can no longer be heard in the Philippines,” Aquino was quoted as saying. “More than this, the only Catholic voice in Asia has been silenced. Friends from abroad, I hope, will come to the rescue of Radio Veritas.”

In his own taped message, Enrile, who was at the time still enjoying cordial relations with Aquino and Sin, said: “It was through Radio Veritas that we announced the effort launching the military organization to defy finally the oppressive grip of President Marcos and his clique. Without Veritas, it is unlikely that we would have succeeded….”

Ramos, who would later become president, reportedly donated 20 cases of beer for the volunteers who took the telephone calls, The New York Times reported.

With the Church enjoying tremendous goodwill, an avalanche of donations instantly poured in, with initial reports saying the RCAM was able to raise P20 million. But other sources familiar with the case said the Church was able to raise more or less P100 million.

From March to July of 1986, Buhain said the Church was able to collect P18 million from people from all walks of life. The prelate, who was then executive vice president of Radio Veritas, said individual donations ranged from P10 to P10,000. He even related one moving anecdote, that of a little child bringing her piggy bank and donating it to Radio Veritas. Such a touching example triggered other children to open their own piggy banks and donate their savings to Radio Veritas.

But after the hype and the publicity, nothing was heard of the fundraiser. There was no official accounting, no breakdown of donations, no figures on how much was collected and from whom.

Where did the money go? All this time, the missing money had been one of Buhain’s long-held secrets.

* * * 

Following his retirement, Buhain maintained a low profile, unlike [Bishop Teodoro] Bacani who continued to be very visible — in and out of the Church. He stayed in a retreat house in Tagaytay and did not attend the regular assembly of the CBCP, unlike other retired bishops.

We sought an interview with him and sent him a letter through a post office box number. He did not reply.

(A retired Archbishop, who provided the post office box number, said it was only through the post office box number that Buhain can be reached.) – Rappler.com