An election watchdog on Thursday urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to investigate if government funds were used to purchase shirts and basketball rings with the name and image of senatorial candidate Bong Go.
Kontra Daya cited media reports on shirts distributed at the National Assembly of the Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas (LnB) last February 25.
They also said basketball rings with Go's name and image have been spotted at the Bacolod Government Center last March 1.
"Government officials supporting Go's candidacy are expected to deny that government funds and resources had been or are being used, which is why the COMELEC should intervene by investigating how official activities funded by taxpayers are being maximized by candidates like Go who are apparently favored by the powers-that-be, especially the President," Kontra Daya said in the statement.
The group also referred to a DILG memorandum, earlier cited by opposition senatorial candidate Gary Alejano, that "encouraged" local officials to participate in the said national assembly as part of their official business. This means their traveling expenses and registration fee, amounting between P13,800 and P19,800, may be charged to their respective local funds.
An LnB official has insisted that Go did not have anything to do with the shirts.
Go earlier called on his supporters not to violate Comelec rules.
"Wala po kaming kinalaman sa sinasabing ipinamigay na souvenirs sa isang pagpupulong ng barangay officials," he said.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año also criticized Alejano for citing the DILG memorandum.
"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," he said.
But Kontra Daya said "official statements of denial are simply not enough."
"Allowing the Bong Go T-shirts to be included in the kits of an official government function is already a form of electioneering and the COMELEC should put its foot down as regards this unacceptable practice," the group said.
ABS-CBN has reached out anew to Go's camp, who has yet to respond as of posting.
Earlier this week, Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) party chair and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said she was confident Go did not use public funds for the white polo shirts distributed at the LNB event.