About P10,000 was paid for by the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) for the rental of 19 Kaoshiung buses to ferry supporters to their proclamation rally in Plaza Independencia, Cebu City last Feb. 12.
“If he (Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama) can get away with that, that’s what he will (also) do on election day (to ferry voters to the precincts),” Rep. Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City’s south district said.
In a press conference yesterday morning, Osmeña provided reporters with a photocopy of a receipt issued by the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO) on the payment of the P10, 000 cash for the buses. But the receipt dated Feb. 11 did not specify how many buses were leased by UNA that was listed as the payor.
He said he also furnished the Commission on Elections with a copy of the receipt and a list of the plate numbers of the 19 Kaoshiung buses used during the UNA rally.
Osmeña said he had his supporters monitor and list down the buses.
Rama said in a separate interview that this should not be made an issue.
“The burial for beneficiaries is given free how much more those that were paid,” he said.
As a procedure, use of City Hall Kaoshiung buses is booked with the Barangays Affairs Unit.
Edgar Truimfo, officer-in-charge, said the charges are computed to include the distance of travel and the fuel rate.
He said a bus used in a beach party in Lapu Lapu City for example consumes about 30 liters of gasoline.
If computed using a P45 per liter cost of gasoline, user will be charged at least P1,350 for the bus rental.
Inter-city travel would consume less gasoline and may be charged only P700 to P800 pesos/
Use of buses in burials could be free of charge. But Osmeña said the P10, 000 rent was too small. “You can’t even rent a jeepney for P500.
In renting a bus, you have to pay for the fuel and the stipend of the driver,” he said.
The congressman said the under-charge on UNA’s use of City Hall buses was a form of “cheating.”
“But of course, he (Rama) does not have the moral ascendancy to realize that,” Osmeña said.
Rama said he has yet to see a copy of the letter which the Commission on Elections (Comelec) sent him asking for an explanation on the use of City Hall resources during the UNA rally.
But Rama said there is nothing to explain. Since he is the city mayor and since Vice President Jejomar Binay was in Cebu,
Rama said it cannot be avoided that the city government would help in preparing for his visit.
Rama clarified that UNA spent party funds in the rally including the bus rental.
Rama also hit the Liberal Party (LP) for its “maneuvers” which prevented UNA supporters from reaching Plaza Independencia. He said the Land Transportation Office (LTO) stranded vehicles used to ferry their supporters to the rally venue.
Osmeña said the LTO only apprehended one bus driver for traveling out of line.
He also challenged Rama to identify what violations the LTO and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) personnel committed in apprehending the vehicles.