A TOTAL of P400 million will be given to 80 barangays in Cebu City by the City Government through the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC).
The City has also started distributing separate financial assistance to 16 barangays that have liquidated their previous financial assistance that the Commission of Audit (COA) disallowed in 2016.
ABC president Franklyn Ong was quick to dispel criticisms that the development was a political move.
“I don’t think this is a political move. If we will work, they will say it’s politics. If we’re not doing something, they will also say we did not do anything,” Ong told SunStar Cebu.
He said they wanted to distribute aid to the barangays during the first quarter of this year to allow officials to implement their projects early.
Ong said each of the 80 barangays will get P5 million regardless if their current or previous officials had liquidated the financial assistance that the City granted in 2016.
In a separate interview, lawyer Marchel Sarno, election officer of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Cebu City north district, clarified that the City was still allowed to give financial assistance.
“Those incumbent officials are not yet considered candidates since the campaign period has not commenced yet,” he said.
Section 11 of Republic Act (RA) 8436, or the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) of the Philippines, as amended by Section 13 of RA 9369, or the Election Modernization Act, provides that Comelec-approved certificate of candidacy (COC) filers “shall only be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period.”
As provided in Section 104 of the OES, no candidate or his agents or representatives shall make any donations or gifts in cash or in kind during the campaign period.
The OES provides that the campaign period for local candidates, which include governors down to municipal councilors and district representatives, will start 45 days before the election day.
This means the campaign period will start on March 30 and end on May 11.
Before they could get the P5 million, though, Ong said the barangays needed to submit a request or “wish list” on how they would spend the financial aid.
The barangays may also choose to let the City implement the project instead of giving the money directly to them.
The P400-million financial assistance was approved under the aid to the barangay in the annual budget of the City this year.
Meanwhile, Ong said two barangays had already received separate financial assistance from the City after their officials liquidated the previous aid they got that was disallowed by the COA.
Barangay Buhisan first received P8 million in cash aid followed by Barangay Talamban, where Ong turned over P10 million last Friday, Feb. 15.
The barangays that have returned their financial assistance and are entitled to get it back from the City include Banilad (P8 million), Busay (P1.02 million), Capitol Site (P8 million), Cogon Ramos (P8 million), Kalubihan (P8 million), Kasambagan (P2.2 million), Kinasang-an (P8 million), Luz (P2.5 million), Mabini (P62,578), Mabolo (P8.2 million), Mambaling (10 million), Pahina Central (P8 million) Sto. Niño (P8 million) and Tejero (P8 million).
Earlier, the COA disallowed the disbursements made by the City from the P800-million aid to the barangays in 2016 after state auditors discovered that the list and estimated cost of the projects of the barangays were not authorized by the City Council.