News Vote 2013

Comelec fails to collect village poll funds


THE Commission on Elections has so far pooled a mere P102 million from barangays to augment funds for the October 28 elections, or only about a quarter of the amount the body poll would have collected if all the 42,028 barangays nationwide remitted their share.

Only 17 percent or 6,981 villages turned in their funds as of the Oct 18 deadline, according to the Summary of Barangay Shares Remitted, a document released to VERA Files by the Office of the Deputy Executive Director for Operations on Tuesday.

On July 10, Comelec passed Resolution No. 9739, which requires all barangays to set aside no less than P10,000 from their general funds to help defray election expenses. The funds will be used to augment the measly P1.2 billion allotted by Congress for the barangay polls.

Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. earlier said the budget will be used “to ensure that the elections are honest, orderly, peaceful and credible.”

As of October 21, the police has identified 6,195 barangays as election hotspots or “areas of concern”.

At least 15 have been killed, including two barangay captains, since the start of the election period last September 28, according to police reports.

But Atty. Genevieve Guevarra of ODEDO said the low remittance does not mean 83 percent of the villages have refused to allocate funds.

Ito lang ‘yung mga nagbigay pero that does not necessarily mean na hindi talaga sila magbibigay. May iba, nag promise na magbibigay pero wala pa rin hanggang ngayon (These are only the ones who gave their shares. However, this does not mean that [the others] will not give their shares anymore. There are others who promised to give, but still failed to up to now), she said.

Guevarra added that NCR and Region XI, for example, failed to state the number of barangays which remitted to Comelec and Regions VII and X submitted incomplete reports.

Among the ones which remitted their shares, Region I has the highest compliance rate with 41 percent, while Region IX has the lowest with 8 percent. However, Region I contributed the least at P398,000, while Region VIII gave the biggest amount totalling P21 million.

The money collected from barangays will primarily be used to cover the expenses of the Board of Election Tellers (BETs) for their transportation, additional honoraria, trainings and meetings.

”Yung mga hindi magbabayad, i-re-record na lang namin na may utang sa amin…Pa-e-explain namin kung bakit hindi nagbayad (For those who did not pay, we will put in our records that they owe us. We will let them explain why they did not pay),” Brilliantes said.

The Comelec will be taking up the matter with barangay officials after the elections on Monday.

Kung wala silang maibibigay, anong gagawin namin? Pero kung walang explanation, ayaw nilang magbayad, nasa batas iyan. Election offense iyan (If they have nothing to give, what can we do? But if they just do not want to pay, they will be charged with an election offense. It is stated in the law),” he said.

Under Section 50 of the Omnibus Election Code, local governments must appropriate funds to cover expenses for members of the board of election tellers, board of canvassers and the printing of election forms and procurement of other election paraphernalia, and the installation of polling booths.

(Darlene Cay is a University of the Philippines journalism student writing for VERA Files.)