MANILA (UPDATE) - Opposition senatorial candidate Gary Alejano has hit Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio over her claim that public funds were not used for the senatorial campaign of long-time presidential aide Christopher "Bong" Go.
Go, who is endorsed by the Davao mayor and her father, President Rodrigo Duterte, earlier distanced himself from the distribution of his campaign shirts during the first national assembly of the Liga ng mga Barangay (LNB) last month.
Duterte-Carpio, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, and LNB president Faustino Dy also came to Go’s defense, saying the shirts were provided by Go’s supporters, asserting that the event was apolitical.
But Alejano said the event had 'Bong Go' all over.
“During the LNB’s 1st National Assembly, participants were wearing shirts bearing Bong Go’s logo. Campaign banners of Bong Go were hung from the ceiling of the assembly’s venue. The campaign jingle of Bong Go was also playing outside the venue as participants were welcomed,” Alejano said in a statement Wednesday.
Alejano also gave reporters a copy of the pictures of the LNB event taken by the executive branch’s official photographers.
“Ngayon, masasabi pa rin bang ‘apolitical’ ang mga gimmick na naganap? It is a resounding NO,” Alejano said.
“Ang mga ito ay maliwanag na pangangampanya. Ang mali dito ay pinondohan ng kaban ng bayan ang pagtitipon na ito,” he said.
(Now, can you say this is apolitical? This is clearly a campaign. What's not right is this is a publicly funded event.)
Duterte-Carpio said Alejano lied about the matter.
“You know, nagsisinungaling si Alejano when he said that galing sa government funds ang t-shirt na inilagay sa kits… So what shall we do about Alejano who is lying through his teeth about his dishonesty?” Duterte-Carpio told reporters on the sidelines of a campaign sortie by her regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago in Parañaque.
(You know, Alejano was lying when he said government funds were used for the t-shirts placed inside the kits. So what shall we do about Alejano who is lying through his teeth about his dishonesty?)
“Sinasabi ko sa kanilang lahat: Walang isang kandidato d'yan na hindi nagsisinungaling kaya hindi dapat nagiging issue ang honesty ngayon.”
(I tell them all that there is no single candidate who does not lie so honesty should not be an issue now.)
Under the Fair Election Act, government institutions - including barangays - should not show bias towards any partisan group during the campaign season.
Other candidates under opposition ticket Otso Diretso urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to look into “glaring violations” allegedly committed by administration bets.
"Ang pinakamababang puwedeng bigyan ng sanction diyan ay 'yung DILG. Imposibleng walang may alam paano nakapasok sa higit 1,000 na kits 'yung shirt ni Bong Go," former House Deputy Speaker and opposition senatorial candidate Erin Tañada told reporters in a press conference in Marikina City.
(The DILG is the lowest body that can be given sanctions. It's impossible that no one knows how Bong Go's shirts got into almost 1,000 kits.)
"Dapat suspendehin pa ng DILG 'yan dahil obviously, 'yan ay partisan politics," he said.
(The DILG should order a suspension due to partisan politics.)
Alejano 'barking up the wrong tree': Año
Año, meanwhile, "categorically denied" Alejano's claim that government funds were used to purchase shirts bearing Go's face and campaign logos.
He also hit Alejano for using a DILG memorandum as basis for his claim.
"DILG Memorandum Circular 23 s. 2019 is a standard memorandum for local government league events. It simply encouraged all punong barangays to attend the 1st National Convention of Liga ng mga Barangay. It likewise authorized those participating in the convention to charge their traveling expenses and registration fees from their local funds," Año said in a statement.
"We wish to emphasize that nothing in the memorandum permitted the use of government funds to pay for any campaign materials of any candidate. So, Alejano is barking up the wrong tree when he showed the DILG Memorandum as basis for his unsubstantiated allegation."