Comelec to bar village bets from relief work
MANILA, Philippines—Spurred by the face-off between Mayor Leoncio Evasco Jr. and Red Cross volunteers in Maribojoc town in Bohol last week, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Manila said it would issue a resolution that would prohibit candidates in the Oct. 28 barangay elections from joining relief work in quake-hit areas in the Visayas.
“We are coming out with a resolution regarding the role of the Red Cross. This is to reconcile the conflict between politicians and the Red Cross and all the other nonpolitical agencies,” Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes said in a press briefing.
The resolution will formally deputize the PRC to conduct relief operations in the calamity areas.
While Republic Act No. 10121, or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, abolished the Barangay Disaster Coordinating Council, it transferred relief efforts to the Barangay Development Council, which is headed by the barangay captain and composed of Sangguniang Barangay members.
But Brillantes said the provisions of the Omnibus Election Code would also take effect since relief efforts have been ongoing during the election period for the barangay polls.
“The Comelec has some say in making sure that the distribution of relief will not be used for political purposes. This we are authorized to do under the Omnibus Election Code,” he said.
“We will monitor the relief distribution to make sure that in cases of calamities, local officials will not meddle and the distribution should be made by nonpolitical agencies like the Red Cross,” he added.
Brillantes pointed out that the PRC and the municipality “are all part of the risk reduction activities” and should not fight each other. “We will try to come out with a resolution which will more or less settle all of these issues,” he said.
The citizens’ arm for the Oct. 28 barangay polls, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), and the One Vote Movement would also help them in monitoring the distribution of relief goods, he said.
The elections in Bohol have been reset for Nov. 25 following the assessment of the damage wrought by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake last week. Brillantes said the candidates’ participation in relief efforts could be interpreted as campaigning.
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