Company donated cars to Tomas, not CH: Margot-A A +A
Thursday, September 6, 2012
TWO Dodge Charger 2009 vehicles that look like police cars were reportedly seen parked in the garage of Rep. Tomas Osmeña, but he doesn’t see anything wrong with this because the vehicles are not owned by the Cebu City Government.
City Councilor Margarita “Margot” Osmeña, the congressman’s wife, clarified yesterday that Bigfoot Entertainment Chairman Michael Gleissner gave the vehicles to Tomas, and that these were never donated to the City Government.
The south district congressman confirmed this and said that the cars were supposed to be donated to the City when he was still mayor in 2009, but Gleissner decided to give these to him instead, after learning that his term as mayor would end in 2010.
The congressman’s security escorts use the vehicles, which have overhead sirens and the seal of the Cebu City Government.
“When it was pointed out that my term as mayor was ending, they decided not to donate it to the City,” he said.
The vehicles were turned over by Bigfoot Properties Inc. when Tomas returned from the US after undergoing cancer treatment in March 2009. The Chargers, which reportedly cost some P1 million each that time, were painted black and white and marked “Cebu City Police.”
A Bigfoot representative said that time that it is up to the City what to do with the two vehicles.
On several occasions after that, Tomas said the cars will go to the Cebu City Police Office, and will be for the exclusive use of policemen assigned to the South Road Properties (SRP), where Bigfoot Entertainment’s filmmaking facilities are located.
Bigfoot’s Gleissner is the first locator in the SRP and is the lessee of a two-hectare area, where he built a movie studio.
The 25-year lease contract for 20,000 square meters at US$.40 per square meter was closed in February 2007. Bigfoot also negotiated to buy 16 hectares of land there.
For his part, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama expressed surprise why the vehicles are with the congressman when the pronouncement made by Tomas and Bigfoot in 2009 was that these would be donated to the City.
“What a very nice gift. What a very expensive gift,” he said, after finding out where the cars are.
“I don’t want to make any judgment because anything I say, whether or not there is anything irregular, will be misunderstood as sourgraping because I will be running against him next year,” Rama said in a phone interview yesterday.
He said there are other officials who are in a better position to assess the situation, such as the Office of the Ombudsman.
Section 7 of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees prohibits public officials from soliciting or accepting gifts.
“Public officials and employees shall not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their office,” the law states.
In a text message sent to Sun.Star Cebu yesterday, Congressman Osmeña said he doesn’t own the vehicles. However, he said that he can arrange for policemen and VIPs, except for Rama, to use them.
Tomas and Rama parted ways last year after the latter bolted from the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), a group headed by the congressman.
In an interview yesterday, Margot said that the two cars, which bear green plates, are registered under the names of Tomas’ older sister, Maria Victoria “Minnie” Osmeña, and her son Paolo.
Margot added that the vehicles, which have been seen in the city’s streets, look like the police cars of Las Vegas because these were used in one of Bigfoot’s films, which starred Tomas.
Asked why the vehicles bear the seal of the City Government and a siren when these are not owned by the City in the first place, Tomas replied: “Why not?”
“There is always a Cebu City police officer inside when in use. Got a problem with that?” the congressman added.
Gleissner, a friend of Tomas, is German by birth, but he became a Filipino in November 2006 after the Senate granted him a Filipino citizenship, making him eligible to buy properties in the country.
Tomas admitted that time that he was the one who pushed for Gleissner’s Filipino citizenship both at the House of Representatives and the Senate so Gleissner, a media entrepreneur, can invest here.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 06, 2012.