Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia spent her own money to pay for national newspaper advertisements to greet the Iglesia ni Cristo on its 98th founding anniversary last Friday.
No public funds were used, said Elizabeth Francia, the governor’s chief of staff, to queries about the greeting ads for the block-voting religious sect.
The quarter-page full color ad showed Garcia’s photo, the seal of the Province of Cebu and the message “We are one in spirit, one in unity and one in nation building.”
It said the greeting was “From Governor Gwen Garcia and the people of the Province of Cebu.”
Francia said the staff arranged booking the ad and got a 60 percent discount for that.
The ads appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Philippine Star where a quarter page, full color ad costs about P80,000.
Fr. Carmelo Diola of Dilaab Foundation earlier asked about the ads, saying he was “bothered” by the expense after seeing many greetings from various politicians.
“Where did these politicians get their money since public servants supposedly have limited salaries?
“If these came from public coffers, who authorized them to make such expense and why are their pictures in them?” he said in a text message to Cebu Daily News.
Garcia is running for a Senate seat next year under the United Nationalist Alliance.
Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale said she also received a text message from the priest asking if the ad was paid by the Capitol.
“I told him that I’m not certain about it… But I understand him since he is a Catholic priest,” she said.
Provincial Budget Officer Eme Gingoyon and Provincial Treasurer Roy Salubre told Cebu Daily News there was no budget outlay for the INC ads.
Provincial Board Member Peter John Calderon said if funding for advertisements of the province are in the annual budget, it no longer needs approval from the board to spend it. /Carmel Loise Matus, Correspondent