‘Pag-ulikid’ covered by poll prohibitions, says Comelec

A sick senior citizen gets a hug from Mayor Jose Espinosa III during a community outreach in Barangay Veterans Village, Iloilo City. Why does the city government bring its services direct to the grassroots through the “Pag-ulikid Sang Syudad” program? “The people are always part of every city’s progress and development. Without them, nothing is possible,” explains Espinosa.

ILOILO City – The legal department of the Commission on Election (Comelec) issued an opinion that the city government’s “Pag-ulikid sang Syudad” community outreach program is covered by election prohibitions.

Acting Regional Director Jose Nick Mendros said the city government should request for specific authority with the Comelec En Banc or file a petition for exemption.

“They have actually requested for an exemption but it’s not in petition form. I forwarded it to the law department and the law department issued an opinion na baka covered siya. So ang advise ng legal department is for the city government to petition for an exemption,” Mendros said.

A brainchild of Mayor Jose Espinosa III, “Pag-ulikid sang Syudad” brings the city government’s frontline programs, projects and services closer to the barangays.

Mendros said if the city government decides to continue the program, no politician must be allowed to join it, citing a suggestion from the Comelec legal department.

Earlier, City Administrator Hernando Galvez said the community outreach program was not covered by election prohibitions, citing Section 9 of the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) Resolution No. 10511.

“Ang mga aktibidad nga amo sini nga natabo na sang madugay na, continuous na sia,” said Galvez.

“Pag-ulikid sang Syudad” started in April last year yet.

Section 9 of Comelec Resolution No. 10511 lists the conditions that exempt programs and projects from prohibitions enumerated in the Omnibus Election Code.

Galvez said “Pag-ulikid” met these conditions:

* The projects / programs / activities (PPAs) sought to be implemented during the prohibited period of March 29, 2019 to May 12, 2019 were established before the said period and duly reported to the Commission on Audit pursuant to Circular No. 2013-004.

* The public awareness and information dissemination activities pertaining to these PPAs must conform to the guidelines provided under the Commission on Audit (COA) Circular.

* In no instance shall the implementation of PPAs be used as an opportunity by any candidate, his or her spouse, family member within the second civil degree of affinity or consanguinity, political parties, party-list organizations and their nominees to further their candidacy.

* Support for or endorsement of candidates, party-list organizations and political parties shall not be made as a condition for the entitlement of the benefits from the PPAs.

* Should the PPAs involve distribution of cash, goods or merchandise for scholarships, assistance for burial, healthcare, calamity and other similar programs, candidates, party-list nominees, their spouses, and members of their family within the second civil degree of affinity and consanguinity are strictly prohibited from participating.

According to Galvez, “Pag-ulikid is bringing the services of city hall directly to the barangays. Alang-alang mo ‘na untaton. Indi na sila covered kay gin-design ang Pag-ulikid may eleksyon man o wala para madala ang serbisyo direkta sa pumluyo.”

Under “Pag-ulikid”, the City Health Office offers free dental and medical services and free circumcision procedures. The Office of Senior Citizens Affairs provides identification cards for senior citizens. The City Veterinarian’s Office conducts free dog vaccinations. The City Civil Registry Office assists those who have issues with birth certificates and marriage contracts.

The community outreach program also offers free legal consultation, sports equipment and wheelchairs for senior citizens and persons with disabilities./PN


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