MANILA – Safeguards are in place amid the grant of exemptions to some of the administration's social services spending as Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections draw near, a Commission on Elections (Comelec) executive said Thursday.
During the Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon program, Comelec spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco said the poll body is keen on observing policies to avoid political motivations despite its speedy grants to requesting national and local government agencies.
Laudiangco made the statement after the poll body granted exemption to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board's fuel subsidy program on Wednesday.
"Ina-identify po sa atin kung sino ang recipients nito, sino ang mamahagi, magkano ang total na ipamahahagi, ang duration ng proyekto (We are informed about who the recipients are, who will distribute, how much is the total cost to be distributed, and the duration of the project)," he said.
Laudiangco underscored the Comelec’s strict measures to limit such exemptions to national or local government program distribution, and excluded village-level projects.
"Mayroong mga nag-a-apply na barangay ang mamimigay ngunit dahil kailangan nga na may safeguard, hindi muna po inaprubahan ng Comelec (There are those that applied wherein distribution will be done at the barangay level but due to the safeguards we did not approve it yet),”he said.
Under Comelec Resolution 10944, the use of public funds for social services and development is prohibited from September 15 to October 30, 2023.
Earlier, the Comelec said distribution or any activity that has value and which involves crowds or groups of people, whether by BSKE candidates or supporters, may be presumed as a form of vote buying or vote selling (VBVS).
Individuals who are associated in any form of VBVS may face election offense charges or disqualification in the BSKE.
The Comelec, meanwhile, reported around 1,382 show cause orders issued as of September 21.
Comelec Chairperson George Erwin Garcia, in a Viber message, said 157 BSKE candidates have sent their replies to the poll body's Task Force Kontra Epal.
Around 76 complaints have also been dropped due to lack of factual basis, while 29 may proceed for possible filing of disqualification cases.
"Ang commitment po namin ay ito ay ire-resolba bago mag halalan para iyong dapat ma-disqualify, matanggal na natin sa listahan (Our commitment is to resolve this before the elections to that those who should be disqualified will be removed from our list)," Laudiangco said.
The next step upon receiving the candidates' reply is the fact-finding investigation, which may include a clarificatory hearing if needed, he added. (PNA)