Cebu City Hall ‘doesn’t have budget’ to pay teachers for poll-related duties

WITH less than three weeks before the May 9 polls, the Cebu City Government still has no budget to pay 3,047 public school teachers who will be serving come election day.

Acting City Treasurer Diwa Cuevas said each teacher, who will act as a board of election inspector (BEI), is supposed to get P1,500 from the City.

The City will need more than P4.57 million for it.

In an interview yesterday, Cuevas said the poll honorarium of the BEIs is included in the P40-million election reserve this year, but the annual budget had been revised and returned to the City Council for deliberation.

The original P6.4-billion annual budget was declared inoperative in its entirety by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) 7 for some deficiencies.

Magpa-abot gyud ta kanus-a ma-approve ang (We’ll wait for the approval of the) annual budget. We are hoping it will be approved before the elections,” she said.

Cuevas said they are hoping to give the P1,500 to the teachers the day after the elections.

The executive department already submitted a revised annual budget in the amount of P9.8 billion but the legislative body only managed to deliberate on it once in the past three weeks.

Two budget hearings were canceled after the council, which was converted into a committee as a whole, failed to muster a quorum. The next budget hearing is scheduled on Tuesday.

According to Cuevas, the council had approved a P15.8-million budget for election expenses last March 30. It is charged to the P42-million City-Sponsored Activities from the reenacted 2015 annual budget.

However, the amount only covers the retraining of BEIs and the training of the third member of every clustered precinct. (The city has 837 clustered precincts.)

The budget also covers the purchase of supplies.

“For now gyud, wa tay appropriation para sa (we don’t have appropriation for the) honorarium. But we are hopeful that the budget will be approved. I’m positive that the honorarium will be given to the teachers. Pangitaan gyud na og paagi (We’ll have to find a way),” Cuevas said.

Councilor Margarita Osmeña, chairperson of the council’s committee on budget and finance, said they cannot pass the annual budget before the elections since it still has to be fully deliberated on.

They also want the executive department to submit some documents so they can correct deficiencies on the previous annual budget that had been pointed out by the DBM.

“We cannot give a haphazard budget,” she said.

To address the concern on the poll honorarium of the BEI’s, Osmeña said the executive department can charge it to the City-Sponsored Activities just like what it did to the P15.8 million.

However, this must be covered by a resolution approved by the council, and Osmeña said they have no problem with that.

“We can pass it immediately,” she said.

Atty. Edwin Cadungog, Commission on Elections (Comelec) north district election officer, said that what the City will give teachers is a counterpart of the honorarium that the poll body will give them.

Kung wala pa man ganiy budget ang City layo-layo pa man sad nuon to (elections) (The elections are still more than two weeks away if the City doesn’t have the budget),” he said.

He said Comelec is giving teachers a P3,000 honorarium that will cover services to be rendered by them a day before the election, on election day itself and after election day, or P1,000 per day.

Aside from that, Comelec will give an additional P500 as their allowance during the verification and sealing of the book of voters, during the final testing and sealing of the vote-counting machines and for their transportation.

In every election, the BEIs are tasked to oversee the voting process in their assigned polling precincts. They also act as deputies of the Comelec in supervising the conduct of the elections.
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