Cebu City mayor ignores Comelec, distributes cash aid to barangay execs
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama distributed cash assistance to barangay (village) officials on Tuesday morning, despite the warning from the Commission on Elections that he should first get clearance from the poll body before any release.
Each of the 80 barangay chairmen received P15,000. Every barangay councilor and secretary got P9,000 while barangay treasurers got P6,000 each.
Distribution was held at the grand ballroom of the Waterfront Hotel and Casino in Barangay Lahug in Cebu City on Tuesday.
Officials from 34 barangays in Cebu City’s south district and 15 from the north district came to claim their share of cash aid.
Rama insisted that there was no need for him to seek a Comelec exemption prior to the release of the cash assistance.
“Should government stop? We have to think about practicality. This (cash aid) has been continuing for a long time,” Rama said.
Officials of barangays Labangon, Talamban, Pamutan, Bulacao, Tisa, Pahina San Nicolas, Pit-os, Inayawan, Sambag 2 and Pasil, who failed to show up during the distribution, could still claim their cash assistance at the City Treasurer’s Office, said Andy Borres, head of the city’s Barangay Affairs Unit.
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon earlier said that the Omnibus Election Code has prohibited the release of funds during the campaign period.
However, local officials can ask for exemption just like what the governor of Guimaras did when he asked for exemption in releasing medical and burial assistance.
Guanzon said even the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) asked for exemption for a cash transfer for the 4Ps program.
The Comelec en banc approved both requests for exemptions. SFM
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