On Arcilla’s act: For official abuse also!
When I learned about the issue on a red plate vehicle being spotted at Safari Adventure Park in Carmen, Cebu on a Sunday, I remembered a story of a good husband and a responsible father.
The story goes this way: One Sunday, the father leads his family to the church to hear Mass. He is with his wife and three children.
Thereafter, because it was the birthday of his youngest son, he treated them to a movie.
When they arrived at the ticketing booth to purchase their tickets, the person in-charge asks the father about the ages of his children. They are told that children 10 years old and above have to pay the full amount equivalent to that of an adult.
The in-charge asks the father so that he can compute the amount of the tickets for the family. The father honestly answers him that his children age 12, 11, and the youngest just turned 10 as he celebrates his birthday on that very day.
With the information given by the father, he is billed to pay 5 tickets equivalent to the adult price for his entire family. He pays the obligations and enters the cinema.
When they were inside, his wife chides him for telling honestly the ages of their children. The wife who was concerned about the costs of their tickets told her husband that he could have informed the movie collector that his two children are below 10 years old so that they could save money. After all, the in-charge did not ask for their birth certificates.
The husband however, calmly explains to his wife that he intentionally did it to teach his children to be honest. He was worried about the effect of telling a lie in-front of his children because he might be successful in misleading the movie collector, but he would unconsciously be teaching his children to become dishonest. He set himself as an example to his children.
Likewise, Cebu City Councilor Alvin Arcilla might be successful in defending himself by way of technicality if there is a case filed against him for using a government-owned Toyota Grandia with full tank gasoline in his tour with his son to Safari Adventure Park in Carmen Cebu. He might be successful in securing the necessary documents, especially the trip ticket to make it appear that it was an official trip despite that fact that it was a Sunday.
He might be successful in the eyes of his political allies in claiming that it was an official trip. He might be successful in convincing his party-mate Mayor Tomas Osmena that he went there on a Sunday, a family day, because he is the chairman of the Committee on Agriculture.
He might be successful in convincing the few that his tour to the zoo was official because, as he said, he learned that the zoo is a great example of rural development wherein development does not entail changing the landscape and the surroundings. He might be successful in letting the people believe that he observed the zoo because he wants to reopen the Cebu City Zoo.
The big questions are: did his act teach his very own son and his classmates to be honest? Did he believe that brilliant Cebuanos are convinced of his explanation that he used it on official business and not for personal use on a Sunday? Can he assure that even within his relatives they honestly believe that line of reasoning? Has he tried to face himself in a mirror?
What if the red plate vehicle was spotted at the beach? Would Arcilla reason that it is still an official trip because he observed the fishes and crabs in the seashore and that it is related to his being the chairman in the Committee on Agriculture?
What if it was spotted in school transporting his children? Will he reason out that he observed the gardens in the school and that it is related to his being the chairman of Agriculture?
Reasons are unlimited. Hence, part of Section 1 of the Administrative Order no. 239 says, “The use of government vehicles on Sundays, legal holidays, or out of the regular office hours or outside the route of the officials or employees authorized to use them shall be prima facie evidence of violation of this section…”
A Commission on Audit (COA) circular also says, “Government motor vehicles should be used strictly and exclusively for official business. The use of government transportation by the spouses, children, relatives, friends, etc. of the officials entitled thereto is included in the prohibition even if they are in the company of said officials…”
Following the above mentioned laws, Councilor Arcilla has the burden of proof that his tour to the zoo was not personal. But instead of making a humble explanation, he even arrogantly challenged his critics to file a case against him.
This is a challenge not only to his critics but also to the Ombudsman to conduct an investigation. Is it not a fact that RA 6770 or the Ombudsman Act of 1989 says that said office can conduct a motu proprio investigation? Is it not a fact that the Ombudsman can investigate even if the basis is a mere newspaper clipping? So what happened to the Visayas Ombudsman now? Will it tolerate an arrogant and abusive officials?
For his part, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmena defended his ally, Arcilla. He fully subscribed to the reasons of Arcilla. Is his stand the same if the councilor involved in the controversy was part of Team Rama?
While the COA circular directed that all government owned motor vehicle should be marked with “For Official Use Only”, with the idea of Mayor Osmena and Arcilla, why not change the mark to “For Official Abuse Also”?
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