Owing to election ban: City projects put on hold
CEBU, Philippines — Several social welfare projects of the Cebu City government have been put on hold until the Commission on Elections exempts them from the election ban.
City Accountant Mark Jason Tirol said these include, among others, the financial assistance for barangay workers and senior citizens, City Hospitalization Assistance and Medicine Program (CHAMP), burial assistance, aid to the barangays,
“Ang kana man gung mga financial assistance nato, mahulog siya nga under bitaw sa social services sa Cebu City unya kana siya nga mga disbursement is nakabutang didto sa Comelec resolution, dili pwede i-disburse if wala kay authority from Comelec
(Our financial assistance falls under social services but the Comelec disallows the disbursement unless there is authority from them),” Tirol told reporters.
Tirol said the city has received a copy of Comelec Resolution 10511, which mandates the enforcement of prohibitions provided under Section 261, subsections (v) and (w) of the Omnibus Election Code.
The Comelec’s Campaign Finance Office will be the one to issue a Certificate of Exception after a complete evaluation of documents submitted and upon payment of P100 as certification fee.
Tirol said the city’s legal office will seek exemption from Comelec.
“Social Welfare projects and services which are originally under the ministry of human settlements which are now performed by other departments/ agencies of the government are not covered by the ban. However the requesting party shall file a petition for exception before the Clerk of the Commission,” reads a portion of the resolution.
This year, the city government allocated P8.1 billion for its operation. Of the P8.1 billion, over P2 billion is allocated for financial assistance for several stakeholders, including P455 million for senior citizens, P400 million for 80 barangay projects, P158 million for the scholarship program, P81.6 million for persons with disability, P80 million for the Sangguniang Kabataan Federation, P76. 8 million for barangay tanods, P65 million for peace and order personnel, and P65 million assistance for teachers.
This year also, the city’s executive department proposed to increase to P10 million the P1 million financial assistance for the Association of Barangay Councils and to increase to P3 million the assistance for the Barangay Councilors League of the Philippines. It also proposed to raise to P1 million the P500,000 assistance for the League of Lupong Tagapamayapa in the city.
The P213.8 million for the Long Life Medical Assistance Program and the P166 million for the City Hospitalization Assistance and Medicine Program (CHAMP) have also been suspended.
Tirol asked for understanding from the sectors affected.
“So not only Lupon, tanod, including those routinary bitaw nga financial assistance sa city like senior citizen, like CHAMP, so gipangayuan na nato og exemption para sure sad ba, tanang social services sa city para sure na sad ta, although routinary siya ipanghatag sa ato ba, mo-comply ta sa resolution sa Comelec (It’s not only the leagues from also the routinary disbursements like aid for senior citizens…. we will comply with the Comelec resolution and we will ask for an exemption),” he added.
Tirol said the exemption of the election ban covers the salaries and wages of the employees, and remittances to the Bureau of Internal Revenue, PhilHealth, and Pag-Ibig, among other utilities.
City Attorney Joseph Bernaldez said they have already prepared communication for the Comelec.
“Magpadala ta og komunikasyon sa Comelec, murag in a form of a letter, informing the Comelec nga these are projects nga continuing, in other words these projects are exempted from coverage of the ban, amo lang gipahibawo ang Comelec nga kini siya dugay nani siya, unya gi-continue lang, so mao na ang essence ana (We will send communication to the Comelec in a form of a letter to inform them that these projects are continuing),” he told reporters.
Bernaldez said it would be prudent for the city government to put the projects on hold until Comelec grants an exemption.
Violations of the Comelec resolution constitute an election offense, which is punishable by imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years, among other penalties provided for by law. — /JMO (FREEMAN)