Comelec exempts OVP, DSWD from spending ban | Inquirer News
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Comelec exempts OVP, DSWD from spending ban

/ 05:46 AM March 24, 2022
Comelec Commissioner George Garcia. STORY: Comelec exempts OVP, DSWD from spending ban

Comelec Commissioner George Garcia speaks to reporters. (File photo by JOHN ERIC MENDOZA / INQUIRER.net)

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has exempted the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) from the election ban on public spending for infrastructure and other projects.

During their weekly meeting on Wednesday, the Comelec commissioners approved the request of Vice President Leni Robredo, a presidential aspirant, to continue her pandemic relief projects throughout the election campaign period from March 25 up to Election Day on May 9.

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Commissioner George Garcia said they also granted the petition of the DSWD to be exempted from the election spending ban.

The vice president’s pandemic response projects have been suspended since Feb. 4 when the spending ban took effect.

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The OVP thanked the Comelec for allowing its pandemic response and livelihood programs to resume during the campaign period.

In a statement, Robredo’s spokesperson Barry Gutierrez said the permission “will ensure that Angat Buhay projects which have helped hundreds of thousands of Filipinos in the past six years can continue to bring hope to communities all over the Philippines.”

When campaign season started, the OVP had to suspend the implementation of its mobile antigen testing, e-consultation services, and other livelihood programs for the poor in accordance with the Omnibus Election Code.

The OVP had offered free telemedicine consultations for patients. Its Vaccine Express program administered shots for individuals unable to make time for the jabs at government vaccination sites. Its Swab Cab program provided antigen testing at various locations.

With support from private donors and volunteers, these projects were initially set up to help decongest hospitals during a surge in COVID-19 cases last year and were later expanded to reach more areas.

Irene Dumlao, the spokesperson for the DSWD, told reporters that they would comment on the Comelec resolution after receiving a copy.

Garcia said the Comelec approved similar petitions for exemption sought by other government agencies and some local government units, but also denied others.

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—WITH REPORTS FROM KRIXIA SUBINGSUBING AND DEMPSEY REYES

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TAGS: #VotePH2022, Comelec spending ban, DSWD, OVP
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