As Manila Mayor Isko Moreno presented the minors who set a vendor’s balloons on fire to the media on Tuesday, Twitterverse noticed the amount of various products visibly arranged on the edge of his table.
A picture of it was shared by the Manila Public Information Office where the city chief can be seen facing the camera with six individuals whose faces are covered behind him.
“BREAKING: Tindero ng lobo sa Pandacan, sinunog. Mga suspek, iniharap kay Mayor @IskoMoreno,” the post reads.
The individuals were presented to Moreno by Manila police officers who identified them as Dranreb Colon, 18, and four minors, reports noted.
Ivan Matimatico, 19 and another minor, however, still remains at large.
— Manila Public Information Office (@ManilaPIO) February 17, 2020
Major Rosalino Ibay, chief of the Manila Police District-Special Mayor’s Reaction Team, said that the perpetrators are out-of-school Manila residents who are reportedly part of a gang.
The group previously lit one of the balloons being sold by vendor Oliver Rosales in Pandacan, Manila, which prompted him to suffer second-degree burns on his arm and head.
Ibay said that the perpetrators may face charges for serious physical injury and alarms and scandal.
Colon and Matimatico could also be charged for violating Republic Act 7610 for influencing the minors to carry out the crime.
As Moreno’s picture with the perpetrators surfaced on social media, some Filipinos noticed the conspicuousness of the products on his table.
“Andaming product placement, ha. Nagbabayad ba ng sponsorship ng Novuhair at Fruitas and whatever that calcium pill brand is? That has to be illegal, no?” a Twitter user asked.
“Suspek ba hinaharap o endorsement ng mga produkto?” another user said.
“What does our law say about actual government figures endorsing commercial products? This just feels unethical on so many levels. If it is illegal as per the Constitution, then it makes him a blazing hypocrite (with regards to the vendors he laid an iron fist on) regardless of who he helps with the money,” said a Reddit user.
Moreno is known to openly endorse products amid his tenure as a mayor, a move which some people have associated with him being a former member of the showbiz industry.
Some of his endorsements include Fruitas, Novuhair, C-Lium supplements, Amazing Pure Organic Barley powdered drink, JAG jeans and Belo.
The city chief previously shared that he donates his talent fees to charity, the Philippine General Hospital and those affected by calamities such as Taal Volcano’s eruption, among others.
Moreno claimed that he has not “seen a cent” from all the endorsements he made.
“Not a single cent,” the mayor said as he defended his endorsements after a social media user, who is also a lawyer, called him out for supposedly violating Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code before.
Section 90 of the code states that “all governors, city and municipal mayors are prohibited from practicing their profession or engaging in any occupation other than the exercise of their functions as local chief executives.”
Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees also states that government officials cannot have financial and material interest in any activities outside employment.
Geronimo Sy, an adviser on justice administration, shared that public officials cannot practice such professions “unless authorized by the Constitution or law.”
“They cannot ‘own, control, manage or accept employment as officer, employee, consultant, counsel, broker, agent, trustee or nominee in any private enterprise regulated, supervised or licensed by their office unless expressly allowed by law,'” he wrote.
“Even if the politicians accept no compensation for his effort or appearance or waives it in favor of a charity, there is no doubt that he benefits from the free, public, and constant exposure,” Sy added.