GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 9 Oct) – Majority of the 225 barangays in this city and nearby South Cotabato province have already allocated the required funding assistance to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the conduct of the upcoming barangay elections.
Lawyer Jay Gerada, Comelec-South Cotabato provincial supervisor, said Wednesday most of the area’s city and municipal election offices have so far completed the collection of the P10,000 contribution from the barangays while others were still on process.
South Cotabato has a total of 199 barangays while this city, which is under the jurisdiction of the Comelec provincial office, has 26 barangays.
“Based on our assessment, about 20 percent of these barangays have not yet finalized their allocations,” Gerada said in a media forum.
The official said local election offices have been continually reaching out with barangay councils in the area to remind them of their required election contributions as set by Comelec Resolution No. 9739.
The resolution specifically required each barangay to set aside as much as P10,000 from its annual budget to defray the Comelec’s projected expenses for the Oct. 28 barangay elections.
It said local governments are required by the Omnibus Election Code to contribute funds when necessary, spending for the “reasonable expenses of the members of the board of election tellers (BET), board of canvassers and the printing of election forms.”
“Barangay officials who will ignore or not comply deliberately with the resolution will be held liable to election offenses,” Gerada said.
An election offense carried penalties of imprisonment of one to six years, removal of the right to vote, and disqualification from public office, according to the Comelec.
Gerada said the city and municipal Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) have been assisting them in the collection of the contributions.
“The ABC presidents were also gathering officials of some barangays who have limited funds to discuss measures that would enable them to meet their obligations,” he said.
Gerada said some city and municipal governments in the area have initially signified to help some barangays that would not be able to raise the required contribution by the Oct. 18 deadline set by the Comelec.
“Overall, I’m positive that all our barangays will eventually comply with the resolution,” he added.