Minnie paid for 2 cars: Tomas-A A +A
Friday, September 7, 2012
That’s how Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) answered his critics who questioned the propriety of his use of a Dodge Charger that was designed to look like a police car.
He also clarified that the two Dodge Charger already had been bought by his sister, Maria Victoria “Minnie” Osmeña, when he decided not to accept these from Bigfoot Properties Inc. owner and chairman Michael Gleissner, who offered to give these to him in 2009.
The Office of the Ombudsman Visayas said a formal investigation may be launched against Tomas over the reported receipt of two cars from Gleissner, who is also the lessee of a two-hectare lot at the City-owned South Road Properties (SRP).
Gleissner gave him the cars in 2009, but Tomas said he declined.
In a press conference in his house yesterday, Tomas reiterated that he doesn’t see anything wrong with the use of a car that has an overhead siren, bears the seal of the Cebu City Government, and is marked “Cebu City Police,” even if it is not owned by the City Government.
It is government policy that a vehicle can only be marked with the name of a government office if the office owns it, with a Land Transportation Registration as proof, the legal officer of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) 7 said.
“Question it, then file a case. Why is Mike Rama making his own law? You know, I can put a seal on my trisikad. What’s your problem? I don’t care what you think. I don’t care what others think. You cite the law that was violated. If you accuse somebody of something, you have to find a law that has been violated. That is very fundamental,” he said.
He said that whenever the vehicle is on the road, a city police officer is inside, except when it’s being refueled or being repaired in car shops.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and users of social networking sites criticized Tomas for using the two Dodge Charger, which his wife, City Councilor Margot Osmeña, earlier said were given to him by Gleissner in 2009.
In his news conference yesterday, Rama said the use of the vehicles should be investigated by agencies like the Office of the Ombudsman.
The American-made vehicles in question were used as police cars in a Bigfoot film, which Tomas starred in.
Tomas said they decided to keep the police car design of one of the two vehicles, for “bragging rights.” The other car, he said, has been repainted.
The congressman said, though, that Minnue and her son Paolo have bought the cars.
“These were acquired by Minnie and Paolo. He (Gleissner) was willing to give them to me but I said no. But I can use them,” he said.
The vehicles, whose registration are now under the names of Minnie and Paolo, are estimated to have cost P1 million each.
Tomas reiterated that although he and Gleissner said in 2009 that the cars would be donated to the City, the donation did not push through. The cars, which have green plates, are not owned by the City, he said.
Before any formal investigation can start, Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol clarified that his office can only look into the supposed criminal aspect of the issue.
The anti-graft office cannot investigate the administrative liability of the members of Congress and the Judiciary, pursuant to the provision of Republic Act 6770, or the Ombudsman Act of 1989.
The Ombudsman has disciplinary authority over elective and appointive public officials except members of Congress and the Judiciary.
He also said that although his office can investigate on its own, the filing of a formal complaint will aid the anti-graft investigators in resolving the issue swiftly.
Section 7 (d) of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees prohibits public officials and employees from soliciting or accepting, directly or indirectly, “any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their officials 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 says the prohibitions continue to apply for one year after resignation, retirement, or separation from public office.
When Tomas was still mayor, the City and Gleissner entered into a contract for the lease of a two-hectare lot at the SRP, where Gleissner built a movie studio. He also negotiated to buy a 16-hectare land there.
Before that, Tomas lobbied with Congress to grant Filipino citizenship to Gleissner, a German by birth, which was granted in 2009, allowing him to buy properties and to invest in Cebu.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 07, 2012.