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Comelec to probe use of city gov’t vehicles

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07:33 AM February 14th, 2013

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February 14th, 2013 07:33 AM

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Cebu said it is investigating reports of Cebu City Hall’s alleged use of government vehicles and resources in Tuesday’s proclamation rally of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

Cebu Provincial Election supervisor Eddie Aba said he sent a letter to Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama asking for an explanation based on media reports about the rally at Plaza Independencia.

A city-owned Canter truck of the Building Maintenance Section was seen delivering materials for construction of a stage at the plaza last Sunday.

Some red-plate vehicles including barangay vehicles were also seen transporting supporters to the venue.

Rama, in a press conference at his residence yesterday, denied that City Hall resources were spent for the UNA rally.

He said the national party used its own funds and paid for the restal of City Hall buses to bring people to Plaza Independencia.

Still, he said he welcomes a Comelec investigation even if “I could not understand what the investigation is for.”

Councilor Jose Daluz III, Team Rama general campaign manager, said they leased 21 city government buses at P1,000 each for use between 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Daluz said former councilor and Team Rama lawyer Jocelyn Pesquera was in charge of UNA funds used during the rally.

But both Pesquera and Daluz would not say how much money was given to them or how it was spent for the rally.

They instead asked Cebu Daily News to wait for the liquidation that they will submit to their national headquarters and Comelec.

Government buses of Punta Princesa, Pit-os and Zapatera were seen parked at the vicinity of the rally.

Rama was quoted in earlier interviews as saying “it couldn’t be helped” , and justifying the city government’s role in preparations saying it was a national event attended by the second highest official of the country, referring to Vice President Jejomar Binay.

A photo of a BMS Canter truck near the stage with personnel unloading a wooden riser appeared in CDN’s Feb. 12 issue with an account of how Parks and Playgrounds Commission personnel trimmed trees, cleared the back of Fort San Pedro in anticipation of a crowd, and , checked electrical connections prior to the rally.

CDN also described other deliveries of materials to the site for the stage construction.

Aba called on complainants to execute an affidavit.

“With due respect to the reports of the media, we have to afford due process to the people involved in this issue. There must be other pieces of evidence with the documentary or circumstantial,” Aba said.

Aba cited section 31 of Comelec Resolution 9615 which considers it unlawful “for any candidate, party or any person to give or accept, free of charge, directly or indirectly, transportation, food and drinks, or anything of value” during and after campaign rallies.

The resolution also said it is unlawful “to give or contribute, directly or indirectly, money or things of value for such purpose.”

Aba said results of their inquiry will be sent to the Comelec law department in Manila for resolution.

Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol said they are asking the public to submit evidence and file an affidavit on the alleged use of city government vehicles and resources during the UNA rally.

“Any concerned citizen is encouraged to file a complaint before the office of the Ombudsman. Government vehicles should be strictly used for official use only,” he said.

Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol said they are asking the public to submit evidence and file an affidavit on the alleged use of city government vehicles and resources during the UNA rally.

“Any concerned citizen is encouraged to file a complaint before the office of the Ombudsman. Government vehicles should be strictly used for official use only,” he said. /With Correspondent Christine Emily L. Pantaleon

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