AFTER denying it, Mayor Mike Rama’s secretary Belinda Navascues finally admitted that she signed those letters soliciting bottled water for Rama’s State of the City Address (Soca) on July 4. Another letter soliciting bread for students that participated in the Independence Day parade last June 12 was sent to a bakery owner.

Navascues’s admission was made during an initial investigation conducted by City Hall's resident ombudman Johnson Hontanosas. It was not clear though if Navascues did that on her own or she was instructed by the mayor. The mayor's signature did not appear in the letters. Navascues signed the letters under the phrase, “by the authority of the city mayor.”

Section 7, paragraph D of Republic Act 6713, otherwise known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, is explicit.

Government officials and employees are prohibited from soliciting and accepting gifts, except from their relatives, even during family occasions and national festivities like Christmas.

But Hontanosas, who is a lawyer, said there is nothing wrong with soliciting water and bread because “there was no intent of fraud and intent to gain for personal benefit.” True. Mike did not and would not personally benefit from the items being solicited. He would not bring the bottled water to his residence for his personal consumption.

But there is that phrase in the law that states: “Solicitation or Acceptance of 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.”

Are Mike and Navascues liable under this law? This is not a case of extortion but a request for support. The concerned companies could easily ignore or deny those requests.

If opposition Councilor Sisinio “Bebs” Andales finds it anomalous on the part of the mayor to solicit those goods, then by all means he should charged them criminally and administratively to teach them a lesson.

But before Andales does that, I ask him to examine first his conscience if he did not do the same thing as a barangay captain and later as city councilor.

Or may I remind him of what Jesus said to people who were about to throw stones at Mary Magdalene: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Another saying: “He who comes to court must do so with clean hands.”

Kinsa ba goy wala nanawat ninyo? Tua man gani imported ug mahalon nga awto nga gi-donate sa usa ka kompaniya para sa siyudad, tua na man pa-ingon sa laing mga tawo.

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Without any hesitation, President Noynoy Aquino said he felt insulted when he learned that someone from Cebu questioned the P14.4 billion that the GMR-Megawide consortium paid to the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) for the airport's upgrading.

Though the President did not mention any name but he was obviously referring to former Cebu governor Lito Osmeña. In an earlier press conference, Osmeña raised the issue about the money fearing that it would be used by the Liberal Party in next year's elections.

During his speech in the groundbreaking ceremony of the new airport terminal, PNoy lectured his critic about cash flow. He said if ever the amount will be transferred to the National Treasury, it would be Congress that will appropriate the amount.

The money is still in a local bank deposited under MCIAA's account. If ever it will be transferred to the national coffers, the transfer will be covered by a Board resolution as MCIAA has its own Charter.

In fairness to Lito, what he did was only to raise the alarm about that huge amount. His call was for people to be vigilant of possible misuse of the money during the elections.

Look at what happened to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of our legislators and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of Malacañang.

Giwaldas lang ug gigamit sa pamulitika sa mga kanahan. Kanus-a pa man diay ta nagpakabana, kun mahurot na?

(bobby.nalzaro@yahoo.com)