Election ban may delay cash for seniors

CAN Cebu City release some cash for senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) next month, without running afoul of rules set by the Commission on Elections (Comelec)?

An official asked the Comelec if it would be prudent for the City to release P2,000 each to some 60,000 seniors, as well as P1,000 each to the city’s 12,000 PWDs. About 800 barangay officials are also scheduled to get their incentives in April.

Are these “recurring expenses” covered by the election ban?

That’s the question Cebu City Treasurer Diwa Cuevas raised in her letters to lawyers Marchel Sarno and Edwin Cadungog, election officers of the north and south districts, respectively, last March 22.

Sought for comment, Atty. Sarno said he needs to review the matter and refer it to their head office, which will decide if the election ban covers the financial assistance, as well.

As this developed, an official of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) 7 warned regular government employees that they could face charges if they are caught campaigning for or against candidates for the May 9 elections.

They’re off

Cebu City’s two largest political groups started their official campaign activities yesterday with a flurry of promises.

Team Rama standard-bearer Mayor Michael Rama announced he would give bonuses or incentives to the estimated 5,000 employees at City Hall if he is reelected and his party wins a majority in the City Council.

Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan’s mayoral candidate Tomas Osmeña (BOPK), for his part, said he would increase the educational assistance the City gives to its scholars and make another South Road Properties (SRP).

Both parties started with a mass. That of Team Rama was held at the Metropolitan Cebu Cathedral at 7 a.m. while that of BOPK was held at 3 p.m. at the Guadalupe Church.

After the mass, the Team Rama candidates proceeded to the Plaza Sugbo Grounds to attend the flag-raising ceremony at City Hall. The mayor then delivered a speech and asked all the employees to vote straight for Team Rama.

“The heat is on. This is it. Kung kinsa to ang amo, uban. Kung kinsa to ang ila, uban lang gihapon namo (Those who are for us, join us. Those who are for the others, I invite you to join us, too),” he said.

Families

When he finished his eight-minute speech, Rama introduced the entire slate and then went to the different departments to shake hands. The group also went to Carbon Public Market in Barangay Ermita.

As for BOPK, they held a rally on the road adjacent to the Guadalupe Barangay Hall after attending the mass.

Osmeña, in his speech, disclosed his plans to increase from P10,000 to P50,000 per semester the financial assistance the City gives to the beneficiaries of its scholarship program. The City’s scholarship program started in 2009, when he was mayor.

Di ko ganahan nga ang atong mga kabataan magpabiling pobre. Daghan pa kaayo ko’g plano. Pero palihug lang let’s take into consideration the future of your families (I don’t want our youth to stay poor. I have so many plans. But please, let’s consider the future of your families),” he said.

In the same event, Osmeña again challenged Rama to a debate to discuss different issues in the city.

He urged the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in Cebu City to organize one.

Avoid sorties

In a separate interview, Prolaine Daclan, head of CSC 7’s public assistance and liaison division, said that government employees may be charged with violating Republic Act 6730 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials if they are caught campaigning for or against candidates.

The penalty ranges from a reprimand to dismissal from public service.

But Daclan clarified that the law applies only to government employees who are holding permanent, casual or temporary positions.

Non-career positions such as those who are coterminous with the chief executive of a local government unit and job-order employees are exempted from the rule, Daclan said.

She advised government employees and officials, especially those working in hotly contested communities, to avoid attending campaign sorties.

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