ILOILO City – Good news to rice retailers. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has exempted their financial subsidy from the ban on the public spending of public funds during the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) election period.
The subsidy will come from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). The rice retailer-beneficiaries, however, will be identified by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
The spending ban is stipulated in Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code and in Comelec Resolution 10944 prohibiting the use of public funds for social services and development from Sept. 15 to Oct. 30.
Oct. 30 is Election Day. The spending ban covers national, regional, provincial, and local government offices and government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries.
“Our programs and services will continue. We are happy that the Comelec has granted an exemption,” said Atty. Carmelo Nochete, DSWD Region 6 director.
Aside from the subsidy for rice retailers, other DSWD programs and projects with approved exemptions from the election spending ban are the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations program, the Food Stamp Program, Tara, Basa! Tutoring Program, Oplan Pag-Abot, Project Lawa, Social Pension Program, Centenarian Program, and Supplemental Feeding Program.
Also exempt are the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty, Kalahi-CIDSS, Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan, or PAMANA Program, the Recovery and Reintegration Program for Trafficked Persons, and the psychosocial care and support for persons living with HIV and their affected families.
Included in the approved exemption request, too, are the Targeted Cash Transfer Program (TCT), Residential and Non-residential Care Program, Philippine Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Project, Socio-Economic Program for Normalization of the Commissioned Combatant, and Modified Shelter Assistance Project.
DSWD is also allowed to continue its ongoing disaster relief, early recovery and rehabilitation programs, and provision of programs and services to address the needs of poor, vulnerable, and marginalized Filipinos.
On Wednesday, Sept. 13, Comelec Region 6 director Atty. Dennis Ausan confirmed the Comelec decision to exempt regular programs of DSWD or other national government agencies amid the election period.
“Sa subong wala kita sang nakita nga prohibitions kay bal-an mo mandated functions na ya nila mo. We should always bear in mind that the election period was not designed to cripple the delivery of basic services. Amo na tandaan naton,” said Ausan.
The Comelec stressed that the approved request should not “in any manner influence the conduct of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataang elections.” (With a report from the DSWD-6)/PN