A CEBU City Government vehicle that was issued to a barangay official allied with Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) was allegedly used in transporting and posting campaign materials of a Party-list group.
It possibly violates not only the recent directive of Mayor Tomas Osmeña, the leader of BOPK, but also election rules.
A Commission on Elections (Comelec) official said a complaint should be filed against the village chief.
A silver Toyota Hi-lux with the red plate (SKV 556) was used to transport the campaign materials of the Alliance of National Urban Poor Association (ANUPA) Party-list.
The scene was recorded by a concerned citizen who told SunStar Cebu that it happened last Monday, March 11, on Tres de Abril St. in Barangay San Nicolas Proper.
One of the posters of ANUPA bears the photo and name of Sawang Calero Barangay Captain Sergio Ocaña, who is the second nominee who will represent the ANUPA Partylist at the House of Representatives if the party gets enough votes during the midterm election.
A check with the Department of General Services showed that the vehicle was issued to Ocaña.
In an interview, Ocaña confirmed that it was his City-issued vehicle that was seen in the video taken by the concerned citizen.
Ocaña said the vehicle was not intended to be used for the posting of their campaign materials.
“I happened to follow our team who was posting campaign tarpaulins, but in one area, I personally asked the owner of the property to allow us to post our posters, but after that, I left,” he told SunStar Cebu.
Ocaña, a BOPK ally, was on board his City-issued vehicle when he followed his personnel who were posting the campaign materials. He clarified that he only chanced upon the group.
On Wednesday, March 6, Mayor Osmeña issued a memorandum prohibiting city officials and employees from using government vehicles for election-related activities.
The directive, he said, is in compliance with the Election Code and Commission on Audit rules.
When sought for comment on the issue, Osmeña said the report is plain “hearsay.”
“(It’s) Double hearsay. I’m not sure who you are and you are quoting an unidentified netizen. I will respond to a formal complaint, not double tsismis,” he said in a text message sent to SunStar Cebu.
Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera of the opposition said he hopes the mayor will stand pat on his memo. “Anyway it’s his allies who will be affected because we in our party, we were not given any service vehicle by this administration,” he said.
In an interview, lawyer Marchel Sarno, election supervisor of Comelec in Cebu City, said a complaint against Ocaña should be filed before their office for possible violation of the rule on using government vehicles during the campaign period.
“He is considered a national candidate by being a nominee of a party-list group and the campaign period for national candidates has already started, so that is a possible violation. A complaint should be filed by the one who saw the act. Then we will rule on that,” he said.
Earlier, the Department of the Interior and Local Government ordered local government units to clear all government facilities, properties and vehicles of any campaign material.
Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code provides that the use of public funds, money deposited in trust, equipment and facilities owned or controlled by government for any election campaign or any partisan political activity is prohibited. (RVC)