LGUs told not to release gov’t aid during BSKE ban period

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Negros Oriental on Tuesday reminded local government units (LGUs) to observe the prohibitions on the disbursement of public funds in relation to the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE). Lawyer Eliseo Labaria, acting provincial election supervisor, told the Philippine News Agency that a ban period is in effect from Oct. 20 to Oct. 30 wherein LGUs, government agencies and other entities cannot use government funds for whatever purpose. However, since Negros Oriental has been placed under Comelec control, the poll body can request LGUs to disburse certain amounts intended for the elections, especially for peace and order, he said. Labaria's statement also comes amid concerns raised by some quarters on certain activities such as regular medical missions conducted by local governments in the province. He cautioned against using these activities and one-time projects to campaign for BSKE candidates in the guise of providing government aid to intended beneficiaries. 'Even without the declaration of a Comelec control status, there is a total ban on government disbursements, social projects, infrastructure, and dole-outs during an election period,' he said. It is going to be more stringent now with every move having to go through the Comelec, Labaria said. Salaries and other previously calendared expenditures are not affected by the ban and in the event of an emergency and disbursements are needed during the campaign period, Comelec approval is required, he added. Meanwhile, Labaria said that with Negros Oriental already under Comelec-control, the entire province is now classified as an election watch list area or 'hot spot' under the red category. Previously, only eight barangays were identified under the orange category because of the presence of armed threat groups, and one under yellow for having a history of election-related violence. This time, the entire province is viewed as a 'hot spot' and the categorization of barangays will just serve as a guide, Labaria said. On Wednesday, the Provincial Joint Security Control Center (PJSCC) will meet to finalize security contingency measures in line with the Comelec-control guidelines. Changes are expected in the coming days with curfew hours to be implemented in certain areas, Labaria said. Negros Oriental is one of the provinces in the Philippines that has been placed under Comelec's control to ensure the successful and peaceful conduct of the BSKE as an offshoot of the March 4 assassination of Governor Roel Degamo and the events that followed, he added.

Source: Philippines News Agency