Aquino borrows jets so what’s the fuss, says TomBy Edison de los Angeles
Cebu Daily News
IF using a borrowed vehicle is against the law, the Ombudsman should also investigate President Benigno Simeon Aquino who borrows jets from friends in some of his travels.
“Is that illegal? They are stretching the law too far,” said Rep. Tomas Osmeña, who tried to strike a comparison with his present controversy over two Dodge Charger sedans in his garage, formerly owned by Bigfoot Entertainment owner Michael Gleissner, a friend.
This was his response to reports that the Visayas Deputy Ombudsman Pelagio Apostol would start a fact-finding inquiry into the propriety of keeping the cars, one of which still carries the seal of the Cebu City government and is marked like a police car.
Osmena said an inquiry would settle questions and misinformation about who owns the cars.
(He earlier said Gleissner changed his mind about donating the cars to City Hall and that sister Minni Stuart ended up buying them.)
Osmeña said he was ready for any investigation.
“I have nothing to hide but it’s very clear that their basis is questionable.
It’s another story to subject my sister and other private persons to a fishing expedition. That is unfair,” he said.
Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol said he received a complaint against Osmeña by e-mail and was waiting for documents from the sender.
Osmeña said the anti-graft office should also look into the complaint for abuse of authority which he filed against Mayor Michael Rama for “bullying” participants of the budget hearing which the city council held late last year.
“They are not even acting on the case I filed against Mike before the Ombudsman and this case, which doesn’t have a complainant they will investigate? That’s not fair,” he said.
Mayor Rama said he was happy the Ombudsman was looking into the controversy over the US-made sedans.
As a public servant, one should be ready to be subject to public scrutiny, he said.
He recalled the pain of being falsely accused as a drug protector during the 2010 campaign.
Osmena clarified that the Dodge Chargers were not donated to the city government because l Gleissner did not like Rama and would not want to pay donors tax of it.
Instead, Gleissner offered to give the vehicles to Osmena who declined.
Osmena said that when he was still city mayor he would sometimes borrow vehicles to escort guests and for his own use. He said he also had the city government seal printed on the bodies.
“The (Dodge) cars have a green plate not a red plate as mentioned in some media commentaries. The cars never had a red plate that would mean its owned by government. The car was never owned by government. As to the seal of the city I authorized it when I was mayor and as far as I know nobody rescinded the order,” said Osmeña.
Osmeña said that his sister Minnie and newphew Paulo bought the cars from Bigfoot and had these parked at his Guadalupe residence.
One car was repainted white. The second car retained its look as a police vehicle and is used only with a uniformed policemen riding it, he said.