News Vote 2013

Requiring barangays to fund Oct 28 polls illegal, says group


THE Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas on Wednesday filed a motion for reconsideration after a local court denied its petition to declare as illegal the Commission on Elections’ directive requiring barangays to help fund the October 28 polls.

The group, in its petition before the Manila Regional Trial Court, says the Comelec’s resolution requiring all barangays to augment the poll budget is “unconstitutional and against the law.”

Under Resolution No. 9739, all barangays are required to set aside no less than P10,000, but not more than 10 percent of their general fund reserved for the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), as their contribution to the Comelec’s budget for Monday’s elections.

The funds will be used to augment the P1.2 billion allotted by Congress for the polls, and will help defray the Board of Election Tellers’ expenses for transportation, additional honoraria, trainings and meetings.

Malinaw sa batas na ‘yung 10 percent is only allotted for youth [development projects]. Hindi pwedeng gamitin ‘yung 10 percent for anything else (It is clearly stated in the law that the 10 percent [SK fund] is only allotted for youth development projects. It cannot be used for anything aside from that),” said RJ Echiverri, LNB National President.

RA 10632, the law postponing the SK elections “explicitly limits the use of the 10 percent SK fund solely for youth development programs.”

The petition also sought to stop the Comelec from requiring barangays to turn in their shares.

The deadline for the barangays to remit their contributions was October 18 but as VERA Files reported on Tuesday, the poll body only managed to collect 24 percent or P102 million from the villages.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. earlier said they cannot do anything to compel the barangays who do not have anything to give.

“’Yung mga hindi magbabayad, ire-record na lang naming na may utang sa aminPa-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),” he said.

According to Comelec’s Office of the Deputy Executive Director for Operations, some of the barangays stated their commitment to submit, but failed to do so. Still, the commission included them in the list of villages that remitted.

However, some barangays do not intend to pay. “Ako, hindi ako nagbayad.  Ang sabi ko, bakit kami pagbabayarin? Bawal din kami maglabas ng pera (I did not pay. Why would we be forced to contribute? We are not even allowed to release  money),” Echiverri said.

Section 50 of the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines states that, “local governments shall appropriate such funds to defray such necessary and reasonable expenses of the 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.”

Echiverri said the Election Code specifies local governments, not barangays.

Mali ang interpretation nila doon kasi...local governments refer to the cities, municipalities and provinces, hindi barangays ang mag-po-provide (They have the wrong interpretation because local governments refer to cities, municipalities and provinces. Barangays should not provide [the funds]).”

Brillantes previously said barangay officials who failed to contribute will be asked to explain after Monday’s polls, adding they will be charged with an election offense.

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