MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Malacañang on Monday again denied that the government owns the Lexus sports utility vehicle (SUV) with plate no. PIZ 808 that is being used by President Benigno Aquino III.
ABS-CBN News checked with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and found out that the SUV’s plate is not a regular plate but a “security plate.”
LTO chief Assistant Secretary Virginia Torres said security plates are only issued to government-owned vehicles.
Administrative Order No. 82-004 states that issuance of security plates should be limited to government vehicles.
Last week, the President appeared annoyed that his use of the Lexus had become an “issue.”
The President claimed that the Lexus was leased by his brother-in-law, and then lent to him.
Reports about the Lexus came on the heels of news reports he had purchased a second-hand Porsche.
He explained to members of the Malacañang Press Corps that he is using the borrowed Lexus because the official Presidential car, a Mercedes Benz, keeps breaking down.
He lamented that another vehicle he uses, a Land Cruiser, is not bullet-proof.
Aquino said he prefers the Lexus for official functions because it is an armored vehicle.
Malacañang issued Memorandum Circular 9 last December, which prohibits the purchase of SUVs and luxury cars by government agencies.
Purchases authorized by the President, Senate president, speaker of the House, and chief justice are exempted from the ban.
The Palace, however, insisted that the Lexus is not government-owned.
Secretary Ricky Carandang, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning head, said the Presidential Security Group installed new plates on the rented vehicle.
He explained that the PSG can request for a security plate for any vehicle that the President is going to use. -report Niña Corpuz, ABS-CBN News
PNoy: I didn’t buy a Lexus SUV
MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino said on Friday that he did not buy the Lexus Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) that he sometimes uses.
Aquino said the SUV is being leased by a brother-in-law so he can use it. He said he uses the vehicle for security reasons.
Unlike his old Toyota Land Cruiser, the Lexus SUV is an armored vehicle, he said.
His official vehicle, a Mercedes Benz with presidential plate number 1, always breaks down and is often in the repair shop, Aquino said.
He said this Mercedez Benz, which was what he and his predecessor Gloria Macapagal Arroyo used during inaugural day last year, often breaks down since it was hit by floods during Ondoy in 2009.
Aquino said he only owns 3 cars: a Ford Everest (since 2005), a Land Cruiser (since his Senate days), and his newly-acquired Porsche.
He reiterated that he bought the third-hand 2007 Porsche since he got it at a bargain price of P4.5 million.
Asked if he was considering buying a presidential jet, which Mrs. Arroyo planned but scuttled, Aquino said he will first ask for an impact assessment on what would be best in terms of cutting government expenses: rent a plane or buy and maintain one.
He said the Fokker F-28 plane for the Office of the President was acquired way back in 1983 or almost 30 years ago.
Aquino was criticized by leftist groups and some opposition leaders for buying a Porschewhile calling for austerity measures. -report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News