OPPOSITION  Councilor Sisinio ‘Bebs’ Andales of the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) questioned the letter reportedly sent by the Office of the City Mayor to an establishment soliciting bottled water for the city chief executive’s State of the City Address (Soca) on July 1. Prior to that, another solicitation letter was sent to a bakery owner soliciting bread for the celebration of Independence Day. And since Independence Day has already been celebrated, I presume the act was consummated.

But the bakery owner and the mineral water company being solicited from did not complain. It was only Andales who made the noise by posting it in a social media networking site. Belinda Navascues, secretary of Mayor Mike Rama, denied any hand in the solicitation letter. But it was signed by her with the following phrase “by the authority of the city mayor.”

Did she do it on her own or was she ordered by the mayor? If, indeed, it came from the Office of the Mayor, are the hizzoner and his secretary liable under Republic Act 6713? Section 3 (paragraphs C and D definition of terms) of Republic Act 6713, otherwise known as Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public officials and Employees, states that “gift” refers to a thing or a gift disposed of gratuitously, or any act of liberality, or favor of another who accepts it, and shall include a simulated sale or an ostensibly onerous disposition thereof. It shall not include an unsolicited gift of nominal or insignificant value not given in anticipation of or in exchange for, a favor from a public official or employee.

Under “Receiving any gift,” the act includes accepting, directly or indirectly, a gift from a person other than a member of his family or relative as defined in this Act, even on the occasion of a family celebration or national festivity like Christmas, if the value of the gift is neither nominal or insignificant, or the gift is given in anticipation of, or in exchange for, a favor. While Section 7, paragraph 3 (D) (prohibited acts and transactions) states that 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 function of their office.”

Is Mike liable under this Act? The law is very explicit especially under Section 7 paragraph D. But Mike can easily wash his hands of this and say he did not know. His signature did not appear in the solicitation letter. But if he was the one who ordered his secretary to draft the letter, he should pity her. She was just following an order from her boss.  I urge Councilor Andales to file necessary charges against Mike or his secretary rather than hyping the issue for political purposes. So we can see the scattered. (Parang makitang katag).

But let us not be hypocrites on the issue about solicitation and receiving of gifts.

If we follow this law to the letter, almost all government officials especially the elective ones are guilty. I would like to ask this question to politicians: Who among you does not receive gifts even on your birthdays and in the Christmas season? The law is explicit about it, “on special occasion and national festivity like Christmas.” Who among you does not receive kickbacks and commissions from projects and government transactions? Who among you does not receive campaign funds during election time? Sus, dili na gani ta mag-ipokrito. Naa pa man gani uban diha kusog kaayong manigbas. Others even resort to extortion by delaying the approval of applications and permits.

A “has-been” politician received two imported cars from an original lessee at the South Road Property (SRP) as donations to the city. But the cars ended up in his sister’s and niece’s name, with the claim that the cars were sold to his relatives.

A case of graft and corruption was filed against this “has-been” politician and has yet to be resolved by the Ombudsman. For me, it is worse than solicitation. If Mike, indeed, solicited bread and bottled water, it was not for his personal consumption. But those cars were used for personal needs.

By the way, I met former City Councilor Ernesto “Pretty Boy” Elizondo during the induction of the new officers of the Cebu Toastmasters Club at Casino Español over the weekend. Boss Erning told me he is willing to donate 7,000 bottles of mineral water during Mike’s Soca. He said Mike did not solicit it from him but he is donating it to end this “solicitation brouhaha.” Everybody who will attend the Soca whether from BOPK or Team Rama can drink his mineral water. Pakapinan pa kuno niya og scotch. Samok ra kuno mo kaayo diha sa Konsiho anang gamayng butang, matod pang Pretty Boy. Correct

ka dyan Pretty Boy.

(bobby.nalzaro@yahoo.com)