It should be the Commission on Elections and not the local government unit that should shoulder all election expenses, Commissioner Ma. Grace Cielo Padaca said yesterday in a phone interview.
When informed that there was a request of about P5.1 million from Comelec Bacolod to be used for election purposes sourced from the LGU's election reserve, Padaca said this is the first time she heard about that, but will verify it with the election officer concerned.
“The Comelec provides funds for the teachers, Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines personnel, as their partners in ensuring an orderly conduct of the election," she said.
Bacolod Election Officer Milagros Salud Villanueva, however, said the request for reserve fund was made before she assumed her assignment in Bacolod.
All LGU’s have their election reserve to fund other expenses of the deputized agencies beyond what was budgeted by Comelec, she said.
The City Treasurer had requested from Mayor Evelio Leonardia the amount of P5,141, 550 for various election expenses.
This covers the installation of facilities for the various schools, meal allowance of the personnel of the Board of Canvassers, gasoline allowance, overtime pay of the LGU personnel detailed at the COMELEC, honoraria of the City BOC, overtime pay, etc..
Leonardia said all local governments are mandated to appropriate a certain amount for election reserve. They are not the ones recommending it but the Comelec and the police.
“If they will not get the money we will be thankful. If there are other groups who want to spend for it, the better,” he said.
Leonardia said they have re-aligned the P3 million from the P5.1 million fund for the plebicite of Barangay Paglaum.
Leonardia said the Barangay Paglaum convenors group was asking the city to allocate a budget for the plebicite so they can make a report to Comelec Manila in order that the plebicite will not be delayed.
Meanwhile, when informed about the request made by Comelec Bacolod to change the venue of the canvassing from the BAYS Center to the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Bacolod, Padaca said that the general rule in the conduct of the canvassing is to hold it in the same venue where it was held before since this has already been tested for transmission, accessibility and signal strength.
But since the request to transfer the canvassing was approved, there is no way the venue can be changed, she said. But as a general rule, the canvassing is being held in the session halls, public buildings and government buildings, she added.
Leonardia also said that the transfer of the canvassing was not their idea. “Personally, I prefer it to be in the BAYS Center where several elections in the past were held,” he said.
However, he said, this is the mandate of the Comelec. But for him, it does not matter where it will be held, for as long as the safety of the ballots will be ensured, he said.
Villanueva had said that based on the Comelec Resolution, the canvassing should be held in the SP, Sangguniang Bayan or Sangguniang Panlalawigan. If the canvassing will be transferred to another venue, this will need authorization from the Comelec en banc, she said.*CGS