The camp of Vice President Duterte is looking into filing criminal cases against social media users who say that she uses a Philippine Air Force helicopter every day to go to and from Manila and Davao City to attend to her kids.
"Maraming nalilinlang ang mga ganyang post," Reynold Munsayac said in a video statement on Sept. 15. "Alam naman natin na kung pababayaan nating mag-propagate ang ganyan, minsan, naniniwala ang taumbayan."
In an ambush interview on Sept. 14, Munsayac called the purported social media posts as "fake news," noting Duterte and her kids are already Manila-based since assuming office and are using land vehicles.
On Sept. 13, Duterte penned a social media post for President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s birthday, thanking him for "putting a premium on the desire of a working mother to be present in her children’s lives" through the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing. The wing provides aircraft support to the president, his staff, immediate family, Cabinet members, visiting heads of states and other very important persons.
"Thank you, PBB (President Bongbong), and your 250th PAW for ensuring that wherever I may be found in the country during the day, I am home in time to tuck my children to bed," said Duterte, who has three children. She also shared a selfie with Marcos Jr., as well as a solo candid photo of her against the presidential helicopter.
As media outlets carried the story, many netizens expressed their disapproval, pointing out its stark contrast to the ever-increasing fuel prices and the daily transportation woes of Filipino commuters.
"Wow, ginawang private use," one user said. Another user said, "these politicians think that it's THEIR money they're squandering. it's the Filipino taxpayers' money for chrissakes."
Administrative Order No. 239 series of 2008 states that all government employees may only use government vehicles for official business.
"The use of government vehicles for private social functions such as receptions, balls, theatres, and for other personal purposes is absolutely prohibited," the order reads.
Using government vehicles on Sundays, legal holidays, or outside the regular office hours or official routes—unless properly authorized—are also prohibited.
A creative director with over 66,000 Twitter followers, identified the chopper in Duterte's photo as Bell 412. Cacanindin said its average operating cost is $2,193, or about P125,000, per hour.
The tweet has over 10,800 likes and 3,300 retweets.
With the said tweet as apparent basis, another Twitter user didn't mince words in criticizing Duterte, alleging her of going to and from Manila to Davao City "every night"—in P750,000 weekly and P6 million monthly trips.
Vice President Sara Duterte, meanwhile, told Filipinos who "can conjure a lie" based on her appreciation post for Marcos Jr. to "seriously reflect" on taking such an action.
"I think that if this person can recognize his anger, he will be able to overcome his bitter and spiteful self," Duterte said in a statement on Sept. 15. "Hopefully, he becomes a better version of himself—despite the cycle of hate that has enslaved him."