Noy’s new flame: P8.5-M bullet-proof Lexus car

President Aquino appears to have shifted his hobby from firing pistols to collecting luxury cars after he was seen riding a bullet-proof Lexus LX 570 in visiting victims of the fatal Edsa bus bombing incident who were being treated at St. Luke’s Global City Hospital.

The ritzy car is aside from a P4.5-million luxury Porsche sportscar that he justified as being purchased “third-hand.”

The Palace has rejected repeated demands to show

the purchase documents on the Porsche to verify the sportscar’s true cost but a source had said it was a gift from a businessman which has a local Porsche dealership.

The 50-year-old bachelor said he sold his two-year old BMW and took out a personal loan to buy the Porsche, which he said allowed him a relaxing drive amid his gargantuan responsibilities.

Aquino has been reported to also have another BMW, said to have been a gift from a businessman, prior to his assumption to the presidency in June last year. The BMW reportedly has bulletproof windows and one inside the car can hear just what those outside are saying He has also been seen driving a red Lamborghini.

A car dealer said the new Aquino vehicle costs around P6.8 million and bullet proofing costs about $70,000 or around P3.5 million.

Groups criticized the new presidential hobby as “out of character”. “He had campaigned against luxury cars and here he is, buying a Porsche,” Milo Tanchuling, secretary general of the activist group Freedom from Debt Coalition, had said.

Also seen being driven in a mahogany top of the line Mercedes-Benz is the cash-laden DSWD secretary, Corazon “Dinky” Soliman.

Aquino, when he assumed the presidency, also ordered government agencies to refrain from buying luxury cars as service vehicles as part of government’s austerity measures.

Aquino won the elections last year on an anti-corruption pledge of clean government and an end to wasteful spending that he said was the cause of widespread poverty.

Aquino has been known to take the wheel from his personal driver in the past during provincial trips, and once said he considered long drives on smooth highways as among the small luxuries he enjoys.

Speaking to reporters who had questioned him on the Porsche purchase, Aquino said there was nothing irregular in acquiring a used luxury car because the money that was paid for it did not come from government coffers.

“It is not the government that paid for it. I sold my other car and it so happened that there was a buyer and that is where I drew the payment for this (Porsche) car. And if we feel refreshed and relaxed from time to time, I guess that helps us to make decisions,” Aquino saidd in Filipino.

But he and his aides continue to refuse to make the documents on the purchase of the Porsche public.

Aquino tested his Porsche shortly after acquiring it last Dec. 26 in a two-kilometer private race track at the Clark Freeport where Porsche owners and other race car buffs drive their toys around, according to a report.

Lacierda said he saw Aquino drive the white Porsche 2007 model during the Christmas party of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office. He added that the President bought that car as a Christmas present for himself.