Support staff hired during the last Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) in Himamaylan City were also unpaid up to now and is also being investigated by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
This was revealed by Comelec Region 6 director Dennis Ausan on Thursday, November 23.
He, however, did not reveal the full details of the case in Himamaylan.
Kabankalan City is also under investigation for the unpaid support staff which involves P3.7 million.
Ausan said they have finished their formal investigation of the incident in the two cities in Negros Occidental.
"We have submitted the results of our investigation to our national office and we are waiting for their action," Ausan said.
Also, he did not confirm if the support staff had already been paid by the poll body as earlier committed.
Ausan said that as far as the regional office of the Comelec is concerned, "we have received information, we acted on it and conducted a formal investigation enough for the central office to have some basis on whatever decision to address the concern."
"I cannot disclose any details yet. I cannot preempt anything as it has already been submitted to the central office," he added.
Pressed if the election officers of the two cities will face sanctions, Ausan refused to comment.
Lawyer John Rex Laudiangco, the poll body's spokesman, in a statement posted on the official Comelec Facebook account last week, said that Kabankalan City Mayor Benjie Miranda disclosed that the 660 BSKE support staff had not received their honoraria "due to an honest mistake made by the Office of the City Election Officer – Kabankalan City in the process of hiring their services."
"Due to this unprecedented incident, the Comelec has taken the proactive step of paying the honoraria of all 660 BSKE 2023 support staff in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental. Each support staff is entitled to receive P5,500 as an honorarium for the election services they rendered," he said.
Miranda, earlier, said the city government "has no obligation to pay the 660 BSKE support staff."
For his part, Mayor Raymund Tongson confirmed the same incident happened in Himamaylan City.
"The Comelec issued a memorandum prohibiting the hiring of support staff during the BSKE," Tongson said.
The mayor said that if there is a legal basis, the city government "is willing to help in whatever way it can."*