MANILA — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday dismissed the claim of opposition senatorial candidate Gary Alejano that the government funded the campaign shirts of former Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, which were distributed during a recent gathering of members of the Liga ng mga Barangay (LNB).
“We wish to emphasize that nothing in the memorandum permitted the use of government funds to pay for any campaign materials of any candidate. So, Alejano is barking up the wrong tree when he showed the DILG Memorandum as basis for his unsubstantiated allegation,” DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement.
Año explained that the memorandum Alejano simply encouraged village chiefs to attend and participate in the 1st LNB National Convention and authorized them to charge their travel expenses and registration fees from their local funds.
The fee of the attendees ranged from PHP13,800 to PHP19,800.
Alejano on Tuesday released photos of a shirt printed with Go and President Rodrigo Duterte’s face, and documents apparently showing how the government paid for the shirts included in the kits for the said event.
The Interior Secretary said the Liga National Convention is an independent activity initiated and implemented by the national league officers as they have their own organizers.
“Just like in any local government league activity, the DILG just provided the guidelines so that the activity is in accordance with law,” Año said.
Ano said he was also assured by LNB officers that no public funds were used to purchase the campaign materials of any candidate.
He noted that the shirts were in fact bought and paid by a private organization supporting Go’s candidacy.
“It was explained to us by the LNB that the t-shirts referred to by Alejano were in fact bought and paid for by “Bayan For Bong Go,” a private organization of individuals who are supportive of the candidacy of former SAP Bong Go, and was not purchased by the Liga using public funds. The LNB remains an apolitical association of punong barangays,” the Interior Secretary noted.
Año said he was also assured that the LNB remains an apolitical and non-partisan association of village chiefs.
“The DILG under my watch will never allow any irregularity more so allowing the use of public funds for unauthorized items. The one who hurled allegations should present proof rather than entertaining fake news,” he said. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/northboundasia.com