Palace: Presidential Car Necessary Expense

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino is expected to use his contingency fund for the proposed purchase of a new bullet-proof presidential limousine, Malacañang said Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda defended that the acquisition of a new presidential car is a "necessary expense" to ensure the protection of the President.

Several administration congressmen recently signed a resolution seeking the replacement of the old repair-prone presidential car with a new unit that has latest security features.

"All heads of state are required to have an official vehicle but our President is using his own vehicle. It's unfair for the President to be using his own vehicle because when it breaks down, the repair fees can't be charged against public funds. That's the reason we welcome the resolution of the House in recommending that the President purchase a vehicle," Lacierda said during a news conference in the Palace.

On the source of the funds to buy a new car, Lacierda: "The President has a contingency fund and part of this contingency fund is for the breakdown of his vehicles."

Lacierda also asserted that the acquisition cost of a new car was small compared to the billions of pesos spent to improve services for the people.

He said the government has implemented "a lot of services" for the people, including the P65.5 billion worth of infrastructure projects, P13 billion in cash subsidies for the poor, and P2.39 billion for mandated kindergarten schooling.

"Compared to the billions we laid out for various government programs for our countrymen, this is a necessary expense for our President because all heads of state are required to have official vehicle. I think it is not hypocritical to say our President and our commander-in-chief is entitled to protection," he said.

Lacierda denied speculations that administration congressmen who endorsed the acquisition of a new presidential car were just trying to get favors from the President. He said the congressmen represent the people who are concerned about the President's safety. "The resolution is not being issued to brownnose the President," he added.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad also agreed with the House resolution seeking a new presidential limousine. "Procuring an appropriate vehicle for the President is not only about convenience; more importantly, it's also about the safety and security of the highest official of the land. But the decision to buy or not to buy is the President's," Abad said.