Otso Diretso bets urge Comelec to probe Bong Go shirts issue

Mara Cepeda
Otso Diretso candidate Erin Tañada says if the poll body does not investigate the issue, it would be like turning a blind eye to a possible violation of campaign rules

PROBE THE SHIRTS. Otso Diretso bet Erin Tañada says the Commission on Elections  must investigate the controversy surrounding the campaign shirts of administration bet Bong Go. Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Otso Diretso candidates Florin Hilbay and Erin Tañada said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should investigate how the shirts of administration bet Bong Go were distributed during a national Liga ng mga Barangay (LnB) event. 

“It’s matter that ought to be formally and publicly investigated by Comelec,” Hilbay said in a press conference on Wenesday, March 6.  

Kasi alam naman natin na ‘pag ‘yong administrayon, at itong administrasyon na ‘to, parang wala silang pakundangan sa paggamit ng mga pasilidad ng gobyerno at lahat ng assets ng gobyerno para isulong ‘yong mga kandidatura ng mga paborito nila (We know how this administration blatantly uses government facilities and assets to promote the candidacy of their favorites),” he added. 

On Tuesday, March 5, Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, an Otso Diretso senatorial candidate, released photos and documents which supposedly showed how local government funds were used to pay for Go’s t-shirts given during a 3-day LnB event held in Manila. 

In a text message to Rappler, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez advised Alejano to file a complaint.

But Tañada said the poll body must launch its own investigation into the matter as well. Otherwise, it would be like turning a blind eye to a possible violation of campaign spending rules, he said.

“Ilang araw na ang lumipas since the event. Nakakalungkot po na wala po tayong naririnig mula sa Comelec kung anong gagawin. So kitang-kita ngayong mayroong pagpikit ng mata ang Comelec dito sa glaring violation,” said Tañada.

(It has been days since the event. It’s saddening how we have not yet heard anything regarding Comelec’s next course of action. We can see how the Comelec is turning a blind eye to a glaring violation.)

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año earlier said he issued a memorandum authorizing local officials to spend government funds for their participation in the LnB event. He said, however, that it wasn’t supposed to be spent on campaign materials 

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio, campaign manager of Hugpong ng Pagbabago that endorses Go, believes Go would not have paid for the shirts with government funds. Sara said Go – who denied even knowing about the shirts – should show proof that no such funds were used. 

But Tañada does not buy this. 

“We’re not passing judgement kay SAP Bong Go or kay Mayor Inday, pero sino ‘yung naglagay diyan, sino ‘yung nag-utos na ilagay diyan? ‘Yan ang bigyan ng sanction ng Comelec. Dapat suspindihan pa nga ng DILG ‘yan eh dahil obviously ‘yan ay partisan politics,” said Tañada.

(We’re not passing judgement on SAP Bong Go or Mayor Inday, but who placed the shirts there and who ordered them to do so? Comelec should sanction them. The DILG should even suspend them because obviously that is partisan politics.) – Rappler.com 

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.