BONGAO, Tawi-Tawi (VERA Files through MindaNews/13 Oct) — Barangay captains in this town said they were willing to give P10,000 from the village coffers to help defray expenses in the upcoming barangay elections, as long as the national government gives them their share of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA).
Barangays have been experiencing delays in the distribution of their IRAs as a result of the Zamboanga city siege that started on September 9 when Moro National Liberation Front rebels attacked the city.
As of October 10, the Tawi-tawi barangays have yet to receive their IRAs for September and October, which are the local governments’ share of the national revenue.
Tawi-Tawi IRA is channelled through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in Zamboanga City. The provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao as well as the provinces of Zamboanga Peninsula that receive their IRA from the regional DBM office have not received their IRA since the start of the siege, Nuruddin said.
Because the village coffers are empty, barangay captains said they would have difficulty complying with Resolution 9783 promulgated by the Commission on Elections on Sept. 3 that mandated the collection of shares from barangays for the elections on Oct. 28.
But Bongao Association of Barangay Captains President Hja Sherhaida A. Hajiri said they would wait for word from the Provincial Election Supervisor on this.
“If this is what the law says we have to abide but we have to hear from other barangay chairmen during the meeting that we expect the PES (Provincial Election Supervisor) will convene anytime upon his arrival from Manila,” Hajiri said.
The collection from barangays is meant to “defray all the necessary and reasonable expenses to successfully hold and manage the elections,” the resolution said. It is also because the national government did not allocate enough funds for this electoral exercise.
Last barangay elections, the village of Nalil where Hajiri is barangay captain also gave their contribution, she said.
Other Bongao village chiefs Dioing Tadus of Tongsinah and Aneesha Ibbo of Pag-asa also expressed willingness to contribute. But Barangay Chair Yahiya Pailan of Sulubbog said there is a need to elaborate on the how the funds will be spent.
Former Bongao ABC President Abidin Nuruddin also agrees with the Comelec Resolution, provided barangay captains receive their internal revenue allotment (IRA).
Delay in IRA distribution was one the effects of the Zamboanga siege that started on September 9 when Moro National Liberation Front Nur Misuari declared independence and demanded that government honor the 1996 GPH-MNLF Final Peace Agreement.
During the siege, air and sea travel to Tawi-Tawi were also canceled so the supply of basic commodities was also affected.
Tawi-Tawi is composed of 11 municipalities and 203 barangays.
This year’s barangay election period runs from September 28 to November. The campaign period kicks off on October 18 and will last until the 26th. (VERA Files/ verafiles.org)