Why use Cebu city government vehicle for beach outing in Mactan?

By Ador Vincent S. Mayol |April 07,2015 - 08:14 AM

RED PLATE NO-NO

The barangay chairman whose government-issued vehicle was seen parked in a beach resort in Marigondon, Lapu-Lapu City over the weekend sees nothing wrong with the way he used the vehicle.

The Ombudsman–Visayas said it will look into reports that an elected official in Cebu City used a government-owned vehicle for his family beach outing at Marigondon, Lapu-Lapu City last Easter Sunday.

Lawyer Maria Corazon Naraja, spokesperson of the Ombudsman Visayas, said the anti-graft office can conduct a motu propio investigation or act upon complaints lodged before them.

But Carreta barangay chairman Eduardo Lauron seemed oblivious about the issue, insisting he did nothing irregular. He said there is nothing wrong because it only happened once and he considered it an isolated case.

“It was my grandson’s birthday. Wala may bati siguro ana kay wala man na siya gigamit para sa sugal compared sa uban (Nothing’s wrong with that because it was not used in activities like gambling, like others),” Lauron told Cebu Daily News.

Naraja clarified that the anti-graft office needs to first evaluate reports involving Carreta barangay chairman Lauron to determine the proper disciplinary authority that should take cognizance of the issue at hand.

“If there is a need for us to act on it, based upon evaluations, then we will do it,” Naraja told Cebu Daily News yesterday.

Oplan Red Plate

The Ombudsman has been reminding government officials and employees not to use government-owned vehicles for personal trips otherwise they face reprimand or suspension.

“It is but proper for government officials and employees to keep in mind that government funds and properties are meant for official purpose only. If they violate this rule, they have to answer for it,” Naraja said.

She, however, declined to comment regarding Lauron’s controversy in order not to compromise whatever investigation which the Ombudsman Visayas might conduct.

“I won’t prejudge it. The anti-graft office has to evaluate it. It is important for us to observe due process,” Naraja said.

Due process

In case a formal investigation will be conducted by the Ombudsman, she said, Lauron will be given the chance to answer the allegations as well as to submit  evidence to defend himself.

Government officials and employees have been repeatedly reminded not to use a government vehicle to places like markets, restaurants, hotels, resorts, or any other places where no official business is involved.

The rules “regulating the use of government motor vehicles, aircrafts, and watercrafts,” have been stated under Commission on Audit Circular No. 75-6 since Nopv. 7, 10975.

The rules and regulations were crafted in line with the government’s effort to conserve fuel and to economize on expenditures relating to the use, operation and maintenance of government motor vehicles, aircrafts and watercrafts of all kinds.

The Ombudsman have been encouraging the public to report any misuse of government vehicles under its Oplan Red Plate campaign.

While official travel must be covered by a trip ticket issued and signed by an agency’s administrative officer, the rule is often ignored.

Nothing wrong

Lauron was seen yesterday inside a junk shop at the North Reclamation Area where other vehicles he owns were parked. The controversial vehicle with  plate number SKV 310 was parked at the back of the Cebu City Health building.

Lauron recalled that he used the vehicle to take his wife and the rest of the family to Marigondon but said that he also used his other five vehicles to bring the rest of the family, friends and some neighbors.

The vehicle was turned over to him in 2008 but Lauron claimed that he never asked a single penny from the city government for the fuel.

“Wala lang ko mangayo gyud ug pang gasolina. Akong gigamit na kwarta gikan sa akong bulsa,” he told Cebu Daily News.
I have not asked City Hall for gasoline. I used money from my own pocket.)

He said he spends P500 a day for the gasoline of the government vehicle which  is being used by his secretary and treasurer in going to Cebu City Hall everyday.

Lauron also admits that he is aware with the Oplan Red Plate program of the Ombudsman but said that he used his own money for the vehicle’s fuel.

Grown ups

“They already know what is right and wrong.”

This was the comment of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama after he was sought for a comment yesterday at city hall.

“I also do not have to do that (talking to Lauron). Dagko na mo (you’re grown ups) you know what is right proper and improper. Don’t exercise it with abuse.” he added.

Rama told the reporters that he doesn’t need to remind Lauron and other officials on the use of government vehicles because they have been reminded by the local government code and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Precedent

Naraja, also a graft investigation and prosecution officer, earlier ordered the three-month suspension of Talisay City Councilor Socrates Fernandez for an infraction during his stint as mayor.

Fernandez was found guilty of simple neglect of duty for allowing a City Hall employee to use a government vehicle without a trip ticket in 2010.

The suspension order against Fernandez was served by the Department of Interior and Local Government last February 2015.

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