The Commission on Elections is impartial and will do its mandate to ensure a fair, credible, honest, orderly and peaceful May 13 elections, acting Bacolod Election Officer Salud Milagros Villanueva said yesterday.
Villanueva was reacting to a press release issued by the “Proud Bacolodnon,” that claims to be a group of civil society and concerned citizens serving as watchdogs against mismanagement of city affairs, that questioned her request for an additional fund of P141,550 for election expenses.
They also questioned her endorsement of the request of Bacolod police chief Senior Supt. Edgardo Ordaniel amounting to P1, 788,200.
Villanueva said it is not only Bacolod that is requesting for election allocation, but other cities and municipalities all over the country, as well, since this will be used for election expenses.
The fund is not only for the use of the Comelec but also for other deputized agencies involved in the conduct of the elections, she said.
Villanueva said the budget was approved by the Sangguniang Panlungsod, and she believes this was scrutinized before it was passed.
The SP passed Appropriation Ordinance No. 09 on April 3 amounting to P5,141,550 to augment various expenses of the City Treasurer's Office, which was requested by Mayor Evelio Leonardia and certified by City Treasurer Annabelle Badajos and City Accountant Eduardo Ravena.
The breakdown includes the installation of lighting facilities for various schools, meal allowances of Comelec and PNP personnel, gasoline allowance for use of vehicles, overtime pay of LGU personnel at Comelec, among others.
Villanueva said that, ever since, this has been the practice of local government units during elections and if this were irregular, the Commission on Elections will be the first to disallow it.
“I do not understand why this is being questioned only now. I believe the voters are intelligent enough to discern if there is politics involved, since they are not easily fooled,” she said.
Villanueva said those behind the group should come out to identify themselves. They can bring the matter to the proper forum and she will answer it because she believes she has not done anything wrong, she said.
“I hope the issue was clarified,” she said, adding that she will buckle down to work since they have a lot of things to do.
Villanueva said they will just wait for the result of the elections and proclaim the winning candidates whom the people will elect, she added.
Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson said there is nothing irregular in the request made by Comelec, considering that every election year, the city prepares an election reserve fund.
Sayson said the LGU is being requested by the Comelec to set aside certain funds for election purposes and this is where election expenses are being charged by Comelec.
This year there will be two elections - one is the automated national and local elections on May 13 and the other is the barangay elections in October. So they have set aside election reserve funds for both the May elections and barangay elections, he said.
Sayson recalled that the election reserve fund spent for the May 2010 elections was also about P5 million. Comelec has to prepare the program of work for the funds to be released, he said.
The election reserve fund will depend on the program of work submitted to them by the Comelec, he added.*CGS