CEBU CITY -- Mayor Michael Rama announced the inclusion of P16 million in the proposed second supplemental budget as the barangays’ share for the conduct of the October 28 barangay elections.
This, as Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) President Michael Ralota called for an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss the possibility of using the barangays’ P6.6-million financial assistance from the City as their share to defray the costs of the election.
Rama, in his regular press conference, said the inclusion of P16 million will be one of the priorities of the second supplemental budget, which the executive department is scheduled to submit today, October 3.
However, the mayor refused to disclose the exact amount of the second supplemental budget.
“That will be a priority so as not to further create headaches for barangay officials, considering also that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) brought it to our attention,” Rama said.
In Talisay City, out of 22 barangays, only two have given their share of the funds for the 2013 barangay elections.
The president of Talisay City’s Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) admitted that some of their members opposed the order to give their share, because of the different amounts per barangay.
Based on the memorandum issued by Comelec Manila last August 8, 2013, election officers are required to collect a minimum of P10,000 from each barangay or an amount not more than 10 percent of the general fund of the barangays set aside for the Sangguniang Kabataan.
Under Section 51 of the Omnibus Election Code, failure to give the contribution shall constitute an election offense and shall be penalized.
Earlier, Mayor Rama said he does not want to help because it is the duty of the Comelec to set aside funds for the elections.
Ralota, for his part, worries that the process of approving the supplemental budget might take long. He said it might not be proper to submit another supplemental budget, after the executive failed to submit other documents like the certificate of availability of funds (CAF).
Ralota met on Wednesday with Councilors Margarita Osmeña and Sisinio Andales, lawyers Marchel Sarno and Edwin Cadungog of Comelec, Tessie Camarillo of the City Treasurer’s Office and representatives from the City Legal Office and Budget Office to address the problem of the barangays.
Ralota is planning to pass a resolution to allow the barangays to use their financial assistance from the City as their share of Comelec’s election expenses.
He admitted, though, that there might be a problem on the legality of using the financial assistance. Under the City’s budget ordinance, financial assistance to the barangays is intended for projects. Ralota fears that the Commission on Audit (COA) might disallow its use as the barangays’ contribution to Comelec.
Ralota has asked for an opinion from the City Legal Office and a certification of availability of funds (CAF) from the CTO to support his move. His proposed resolution might be tackled during the next council session on Wednesday.
“Hopefully, it will be approved before the deadline,” Ralota said.
Comelec has set October 18, 2013 as its deadline for all the barangays.
According to Comelec’s computation, Cebu City’s total share would reach P14.7 million.
The biggest share will come from Barangay Guadalupe, which amounts to P828,000.
Three barangays out of 80 — San Roque, Tejero and Sto. Nino — already paid their dues to Comelec.
In Talisay City, election assistant Analou Bacho told Sun.Star Cebu that as of Wednesday, only Barangays San Isidro and Lawaan III had provided their share.
San Isidro, led by Barangay Chief Marietta Bucao, contributed about P79,000. Lawaan III, headed by Dehlia Ybañez, gave P67,000 to the Talisay City Election Office last month.
Not the same
Talisay’s barangays that have yet to give their share are Dumlog, Poblacion, Lawaan 1 and 2, Maghaway, Lagtang, Jaclupan, Camp 4, Manipis, Bulacao, Tabunok, San Roque, Tanke, Cansojong, Biasong, Pooc, Linao, Mohon, Candulawan and Tapul.
Barangay Dumlog chief Charles Basillote, who is also ABC president, admitted that some barangay chiefs had opposed the order to provide their share of the costs.
One of their complaints was that some barangays can only give the minimum share of P10,000 while some are required to give more, he said.
Another complaint is that some barangays have difficulty raising the amount required.
Basillote also added that during the previous barangay elections, barangays were not mandated to pay the cost.
But Basillote explained that he and the barangay chiefs are willing to give their share provided that the Comelec sends them the updated sharing scheme.
The contributions from the barangays will go to the honoraria, transportation allowance and training of the Board of Election Tellers (BET).
Meanwhile, a police official said the 130 officers deployed to Zamboanga City in support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines against the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) are needed for the barangay elections in Central Visayas region.
Police Regional Office (PRO) Director Danilo Constantino said the personnel of Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) would help in securing peace and order during the elections on October 28.
“Wish natin nga makabalik yung mga tao natin (We wish they’d come home soon),” he said.
Government troops are currently on clearing operations, after nearly three weeks of fighting the MNLF forces that tried to march to the Zamboanga City Hall in early September.
Constantino assured that there are enough police operatives to secure the elections.
The Central Command will also be tapped by the Comelec to help the police.
In an earlier report, Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) Director Noel Gillamac said they eyed seven barangays in Cebu Province as potential election watch list areas (EWAS), based on their history of election-related violence.
The initial list includes Barangays Panadtaran, Bugho, Tongo and Pitalo in San Fernando; Barangay Guadalupe in Carcar City; Barangay Sumon in Tuburan; and Barangay Cayana in Bogo City.
As to the condition of RPSB personnel in Zamboanga City, Constantino said none of the officers was killed or wounded.
“Wala namang nagkakasakit (No one fell ill),” he said. “Hopefully, tuluyang mag-improve yung situation dun (I hope the situation there keeps improving).”(RVC/Sun.Star Cebu)