MANILA (UPDATE) - Opposition senatorial candidate Gary Alejano on Tuesday slammed administration bet Bong Go for allegedly distributing t-shirts printed with the former presidential aide's face and campaign logos during a public assembly attended by barangay officials.
The white polo shirts were distributed as part of the first Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas National Assembly event kit, where the registration fee cost between P13,800 and P19,800, Alejano said in a statement.
"Ang kanilang registration fee at iba pang expenses ay charged sa local funds as per DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) Memorandum Circular 2019-23. Ibig sabihin charged sa pondo ng gobyerno," he said.
(Their registration fee and other expenses are charged to local funds as per DILG Memorandum Circular 2019-23. It means it's charged to government funds.)
The fee covered entrance to the 3-day event at the SMX Covention Center in Pasay City last month, hotel accommodation, meals, and seminar bags and materials, a document from the Liga ng mga Barangay showed.
"Ang panawagan ko ay tigilan na ni Bong Go ang pag gamit sa mga kapitan at pondo ng gobyerno para sa personal niyang kampanya," he said.
(I call on Bong Go to stop using barangay chairpersons and government funds for his personal campaign.)
Go said he had "no idea" that his name and cartoonized face were emblazoned on the giveaways for the said event.
"Wala po kaming kinalaman sa sinasabing ipinamigay na souvenirs sa isang pagpupulong ng barangay officials," Go told ABS-CBN News.
(We were not involved in the supposed distribution of souvenirs in a barangay assembly.)
Go reminded his supporters not to use his name without consent.
“Nanawagan po ako sa aking mga supporters. Maraming salamat sa suporta ninyo pero sumunod po tayo sa batas at mga alintuntunin ng Comelec," he said in a statement.
(I am calling on my supporters. Thank you for your support but let's follow the law and rules of Comelec.)
Go added that he was not foolish to commit such an offense.
“Nag-iisip po ako at hindi po tayo bobo, hindi po alimango ang utak ko,” Go said.
(I think and I'm not stupid. I do not have crab mentality.)
Government officials should focus on public service instead of campaigning on others' behalf, he said.
"Paalala rin sa mga dati kong kasamahan sa gobyerno: prayoridad natin ang magserbisyo sa kapwa," he said.
(A reminder for my colleagues in government: public service should be our priority.)
"Huwag na po kayo mangampanya o makisali pa sa pulitika. Itago niyo nalang sa puso ninyo kung sino gusto ninyong suportahan," Go said.
(Don't campaign or meddle in politics. Just keep in your heart who you support.)
Event organizers have yet to comment on the incident.
Hugpong ng Pagbabago chairperson Sara Duterte-Carpio, who backs Go's candidacy, belied the accusations on behalf of her father's former aide during a campaign rally in Quezon City.
"Probably, in-allow siya na mag-insert ng kaniyang t-shirt doon but ang source ng fund, I can be very sure na hindi government 'yun,” said the Davao City Mayor, who included Go in her regional slate.
(He was probably allowed to insert shirts in the kits but in terms of funding, I can be very sure that it did not come from the government.)
Last year, customized "Bong Go" phones were also given as souvenirs in a Sangguniang Kabataan meeting held in Malacañang.
Go earlier declined to name his major campaign donors but said that he would disclose it in his statement of contributions and expenses (SOCE).