MANILA (PhilAmPress/PhlTodayUSA) – Presidential sister and actress-host Kris Aquino is under fire for using government helicopters when she joined the campaign in support of the administration candidates.
Photos of Kris, sporting the yellow campaign shirt, alighting from one of five helicopters with government emblems were posted on Facebook and other social media sites and reported on by leading networks, including her long-time studio ABS-CBN, and top newspapers, and went viral since.
Netizens who saw the photos readily assailed Kris and her brother President Benigno S. Aquino III for allowing the use of the government helicopters for Kris and her companions while the choppers were said to be unavailable during emergencies like the Mamasapano massacre and the recent clashes in Sulu where at least 18 soldiers were killed.
President Aquino readily defended her sister and her use of presidential chopper by her sister Kris Aquino in Negros Occidental.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas said it is looking into reports on the use of the presidential choppersl helicopter during a campaign sortie of the Liberal Party (LP).
Lawyer Ma. Corazon Naraja, spokesperson of theOmbudsman in Cebu City, said they were gathering facts about the incident and would determine the legal issues concerning the matter.
In Lipa City, the President explained that the presidential sister being one of the country’s big individual taxpayers deserve to see the successes of his administration.
”Whether as an individual taxpayer or somebody who was very close to me, who shared all of the burdens, I think it’s just but proper na i-share naman the successes, share kami sa hirap, share ko na rin ‘yung success,” the President said.
But several groups and netizens insisted that the Presidential sister committed an election offense for using a government helicopter to campaign for the administration’s presidential and vice presidential candidates, adding that President Aquino himself is more liable for allowing it.
This was stressed by the Kawani Kontra Daya (KKD), a newly formed group of employees from various government agencies who aim to monitor election-related fraud and violence and an affiliate of the Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage).
By using a government vehicle, Kris Aquino violated the Omnibus Election Code, said Dakila Millamena, KKD spokesperson, said in a statement.
A day before, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., issued a statement insisting that immediate members of the president’s family were not barred from using official government vehicles.
In reaction, Millamena said: “The law does not prohibit elected and appointed government officials from partisan political activity such as campaigning. But they should do so without violating the Omnibus Election Code.”
He cited Section 261 of the code, which states the following as an election offense:
“Use of public funds, money deposited in trust, equipment, facilities owned or controlled by the government for an election campaign. – Any person who uses under any guise whatsoever, directly or indirectly …(3) any equipment, vehicle, facility, apparatus, or paraphernalia owned by the government or by its political subdivisions, agencies including government-owned or controlled corporations, or by the Armed Forces of the Philippines for any election campaign or for any partisan political activity.”
“President Aquino is in fact more liable since he has been campaigning for the Liberal Party bets on official time using official government resources,” Millamena said.
KKD members are deliberating whether to file charges.
“If this is committed by an ordinary and rank and file government employee, he or she is right away suspended and even dismissed from service if found guilty,” Millamena said. “Officials of the government should not be allowed to get away with it.”
President Aquino said his sister, a popular actress and TV host, had volunteer to join him.
”Gusto ko namang ipakita sa kanya: Tingnan mo ang resulta na talagang nagiging makabuluhan at may saysay itong demokrasyang ipinaglaban ng mga magulang natin,” he said.
The critics claimed that presidential sister used the chopper while campaigning for the administration’s presidential bet Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas II and running mate Leni Robredo.
”So, sinama si Kris? Alam niyo palagay ko hindi ko nakita kung sino ‘yung mga pumupuna, palagay ko same set of characters eh. Ibig sabihin ‘non ‘yung wala nang nakitang maganda sa ginawa ko, tuloy-tuloy pa rin sila, eh ‘di thank you,” the President said. (PhilAmPress/PhlTodayUSA)