THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) banned the appointment and hiring of new employees or the creation of new positions in Guadalupe, Cebu City starting last Tuesday until March 17, because of an upcoming plebiscite.

For the rest of the country, a similar ban in relation to the May 10, 2010 elections will take effect on March 26 yet.

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The Comelec en banc, in a resolution last Feb. 17, also ordered a total ban on promotions, salary increases and granting of privileges to any official or employee of the barangay.

Because of the May elections, local government units (LGUs) are barred from transferring or suspending any of its officials starting Jan. 11, as instructed by the Comelec. The poll body also approved the guidelines on the prohibition on hiring new employees and using funds for public works.

By March 26, when the local campaign period starts, the prohibition on hiring new permanent or casual employees will take effect, as well as the total ban on the promotion of employees and any salary increase.

Because of Guadalupe’s plebiscite on March 13, the Comelec en banc promulgated Resolution 8777. This means the barangay will be more than a month early in enforcing the ban on the hiring of new employees, creation or filling up of new positions, salary increases, or promotions of barangay employees.

Section 5 of the resolution reinforced the order by telling the Civil Service Commission not to approve the appointment of new employees without the Comelec’s prior approval.

The Department of Budget and Management was also told not to release or authorize the release of any appropriation related to the prohibitions.

Violators will face imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years.

Under Resolution 8779, the poll body also promulgated the rules in enforcing the prohibition on release, disbursement or use of public funds for public works effective Feb. 16 to March 17.

Rep. Antonio Cuenco, meanwhile, will ask Comelec Manila to advance a portion of the budget for the plebiscite provided for by Malacañang to the local Comelec office.

Election Officer Edwin Cadungog needs the funds for the publication of the notices for the plebiscite.

“I will ask Comelec Manila to remit part of the funds to Cebu right away. Until yesterday, the Comelec has not received the funds earmarked for the plebiscite,” Cuenco said.

The funds are supposed to take care of incidental expenses and the publication of notices. But the ballots will be printed in Manila.

Cuenco said the money should arrive within the week because of the need to publish the plebiscite schedule and the question that each voter must answer with “yes” or “no.”

“Og dili pa gyud maabot ako na pud siguro ani (If the funds don’t arrive, I might have to do something again),” the congressman said.

He was instrumental in the release of the funds for the plebiscite after he requested President Gloria Arroyo to have Malacañang advance P1.458 million to the Comelec for the political exercise.

Cuenco, in a letter to the President dated Jan. 21, said the Comelec was still awaiting the release of its funds under the General Appropriations Act, and the plebiscite has to be held.

He wrote the letter after Comelec Deputy Executive Director for Operations Bartolome Sinocruz Jr. said that their Contingency Fund was already depleted, so they cannot produce the estimated P1.458 million needed for the plebiscite.

Cuenco drafted Republic Act 9905, or “An Act Creating a Barangay to be known as Barangay Banawa-Englis in the City of Cebu,” that President Arroyo signed last Jan. 7.

He asked the contending parties, particularly the Guadalupe barangay officials led by Barangay Captain Eugenio Faelnar and the United Banawa- Englis Association Inc., to refrain from employing intimidation and other dirty tactics.

Since the plebiscite is governed by Omnibus Election Code, a gun ban and a liquor ban will be enforced for the plebiscite.

Resolution 8778, promulgated also last Feb. 17, sets the liquor ban on March 12 to 13.

Tourist-oriented hotels and other establishments in the barangay frequented by tourists or “habitually in the business of catering to foreign tourists,” however, are exempted, provided they secure a prior written authority from the Comelec.