The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) admonished Cainta Mayor Kit Nieto for not being a good example to the public when he did not wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle.
DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that “election to public office does not grant individuals any special status. Therefore, being a mayor or barangay chairman, etc. does not exempt one from the coverage of our laws.”
“While Mayor Nieto has already publicly apologized for his act and accepted his shortcomings, the Department underscores the need for elected local officials to lead by example at all times,” he said.
Malaya said “how can we expect ordinary citizens to follow the law if they see their local officials flaunting or defying it and when called out, defend their right not to follow on the ground that he has signed a waiver?”
“Ang Mayor ang kailangang manguna sa pagsunod sa batas, hindi sa paglabag nito. Resorting to legal technicalities will not change the facts,” he said.
He said that the Department wishes to remind all local officials of the directive of the President that government officials should not act like they are special because in reality, they are only workers of the people.
“That’s why don’t treat us special. We are just like anybody else. We are just ordinary people. We are just workers,” the President said in a recent speech in Malacañang.
The President also told government officials, “Huwag kayong mag-siren, we are not a special breed. We are just workers of government, we are paid to work. We are not paid to strut around.”
Malaya thanked road safety advocate James Deakin for taking a stand and for correctly pointing out that it would be catastrophic to public safety and law enforcement and will end up costing lives if public officials blindly defend their alleged right not to wear a helmet as Mayor Nieto first did before he apologized.
Malaya said that the greater issue here is responsible road use and that local government officials by example should send out the powerful message that all must follow the law no matter what your position or status in life is.