Ombud to investigate Kris’s use of presidential chopper
The Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas is looking into reports that television host Kris Aquino used a presidential chopper during a campaign sortie of the Liberal Party (LP) in Cebu last Tuesday.
Lawyer Ma. Corazon Naraja, spokesperson of the anti-graft office based in Cebu City, said they are gathering facts about the incident and will determine the legal issues concerning the matter.
“We’re studying the issue at hand,” she told Cebu Daily News.
Naraja refused to elaborate, saying there are several legal aspects they need to consider.
She, however, said that the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines prohibits the use of government-owned vehicles and other government resources in election campaigns.
“Let me remind everyone that using government resources to promote the candidacy of any person is an election offense,” Naraja said.
The Office of the Ombudsman learned about the incident involving the presidential sister through media reports.
As a policy, the anti-graft office can conduct an investigation on its own or based on reports in the media.
Kris was heavily criticized after photos on social media showed her alighting from a presidential chopper to campaign for LP presidential candidate
Mar Roxas and the latter’s running mate Camarines Sur Rep. Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.
Kris, who wore a yellow shirt and black pants, was accompanied by people who appeared to be her aides.
The photos, which were uploaded on Facebook, were released by the Municipality of Dalaguete where the presidential chopper reportedly landed last Tuesday.
Kris attended a political rally of Roxas and Robredo in Argao town, located next to Dalaguete. President Benigno Aquino III also graced the event.
Critics said the president and LP are misusing public funds by allowing Kris to ride a government vehicle to campaign for Roxas and Robredo.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. had explained to the media that members of the president’s immediate family are allowed to ride with him in official government vehicles.
The anti-graft office has been reminding government officials and employees not to use government-owned vehicles for personal trips, otherwise they face reprimand or suspension.
Aside from the Omnibus Election Code, Administrative Order No. 239 prohibits the use of government vehicles, other than for official business, and those using them should have a corresponding trip ticket displayed on the windshield.
Erring public servants and those without trip tickets could face liability under various laws including RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), RA 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, Revised Administrative Code of the Philippines, COA circulars, Government Accounting and Auditing Manual, and other executive issuances.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has jurisdiction to conduct preliminary investigation and prosecute election offenses, concurrent with other prosecuting arms of the government, including the Office of the Ombudsman.
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