Sunday, August 26, 2007

LGUs won’t spend for village polls

By Julie M. Aurelio

MANILA, Philippines -- Local government units are up in arms against the plan of the Commission on Elections for them to shoulder 25 percent of the expenses for the barangay (village) elections in October.

"Why should any portion of the expenses for the upcoming elections be taken out of the budget of LGUs? The Comelec is in charge of all elections, and, therefore, all election-related expenses," Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay said Saturday.

Binay pointed out that under Republic Act 9340 or the Synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) Elections Act, LGUs are not required to share in election-related expenditures.

"All funds for this particular election are to be taken from the Comelec budget. If needed, these funds may be augmented by an amount not exceeding 10 per cent of the SK budget," Binay said. "There is no mention of a 25-per cent share from LGUs."

No funds have been appropriated for the barangay and SK elections in this year's current budget of LGUs since their budget was prepared a year in advance.

"Besides, some LGUs are already hard-pressed just meeting their payroll requirements, so how can they afford to share 25 percent of their budget for the elections?" Binay asked.

Binay suggested that the Comelec might as well postpone or cancel the elections altogether if the funds are insufficient to meet the expenses.

"I have long proposed that barangay chairmen and SK officials be appointed by the incumbent mayors. This way, we will be able to ensure cooperation and teamwork," he added.

Aside from saving on election expenses, Binay pointed out that allowing local chief executives to appoint barangay and SK officials would help do away with "too much and unnecessary politics in the grassroots level."

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