Comelec urged to probe Aquino’s use of gov’t funds to promote bets
MANILA, Philippines – Several labor groups have submitted a letter to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Wednesday questioning the alleged use of government resources by President Benigno Aquino III to promote candidates of the administration.
The three-page letter submitted by Anakpawis partylist, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), and Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) to Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. asked for an investigation into the reported distribution of PhilHealth cards in one of the Liberal Party’s (LP) campaign sorties.
“The distribution should have been done several months ahead of the election period that officially started last February 12,” the letter said.
“The distribution of such medical assistance should have been done by public health officials on ordinary days and not by the president and his allies currently on the campaign trail,” it added.
The groups claimed that on February 14, local government officials allied with the LP in Bohol province distributed PhilHealth cards and three kilos of rice to indigent residents while the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) was holding a motorcade for its candidates 200 meters away.
They also questioned Aquino’s distribution of PhilHealth cards when he visited the areas controlled by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mindanao, saying “the act is deemed an invitation to the Moro community to vote for the senatorial candidates of LP.”
Brillantes told reporters in an interview that there was nothing wrong with the distribution of PhilHealth cards even during the campaign period as this was for the benefit of the public.
The groups appealed to the Comelec saying, “We believe the poll body should exercise extra vigilance and exert legal, political and moral efforts to remind and restrain Aquino from using the Office of the President and taxpayers’ resources to campaign for and advance the candidacy of allies and partners of Aquino.”
The groups cited Republic Act 9006 or Fair Elections Act of 2001 which prohibits the use of government funds for election purposes.
They also said that it was in the interest of the public that Aquino avoid engaging in “partisan politics such as open endorsement of favored candidates and putting priority to the electoral sorties of administration-backed candidates.”
The groups likened Aquino’s distribution of PhilHealth cards and the alleged use of the Office of the President in campaigns to “the same immoral practice carried out by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004, 2007, and 2010, elections.”
“Comelec should admonish, warn, and insist President Aquino to cease and desist from leading the electoral campaign of his allies and partymates in LP,” the groups said.