Ombudsman urged to probe P1M dinner

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 12 2009 01:28 PM | Updated as of Aug 12 2009 09:41 PM

MANILA - A party-list congressman on Wednesday filed a letter of complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for the lavish dinner she had at a prestigious restaurant in New York during her recent US trip.

Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello asked Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to look into Mrs. Arroyo's possible violation of Republic Act 6713, which sets public officials' code of conduct and ethical standards.

Bello said Mrs. Arroyo violated RA 6713's Section 4-H (Simple Living), which states that "public officials and employees and their families shall lead modest lives appropriate to their positions and income."

The law adds, ”They shall not indulge in extravagant or ostentatious display of wealth in any form."

The congressman said Mrs. Arroyo's dinner at the Le Cirque restaurant, which allegedly cost $20,000 or almost P1 million, is obviously not "living a modest life."

Bello added that even if the dinner was paid for by Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, the lavish dinner can still be used against the President as it is a violation of the Revised Penal Code's Section 211 or indirect bribery, which prohibits public officials from accepting gifts offered to them by reason of their official position.

The congressman, meanwhile, said they are aware the Ombudsman may refuse to investigate Mrs. Arroyo's possible violations because of her presidential immunity.

However, he said they wanted to put on record the complaint, which may be revived after Mrs. Arroyo steps down in June 2010. -- report from Sheryll Mundo, ABS-CBN News