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Comelec exempts fuel subsidy program from election spending ban

James Relativo - Philstar.com
Comelec exempts fuel subsidy program from election spending ban
Gasoline station workers fill up jeepney fuel tanks along Sta. Cruz Avenue in Manila on September 18, 2023.
The STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) finally approved the request of various state agencies to exempt the government's fuel subsidy grant to beneficiaries from the election spending ban.

It could be remembered that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) started the distribution of the P3-billion fuel subsidy for public utilities vehicle (PUV) operators last week to cushion the impact of the oil price hikes over the last few weeks.

"The [Comelec] already approved the request of the [Department of Transportation] and LTFRB to exempt the government's fuel subsidy program from the election spending band," Comelec chairperson George Garcia said in Filipino on Wednesday.

Memorandum 23-06418 has been issued to replace the government expenditure ban in connection with the upcoming October 30 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections, a move which was also done in the 2022 national elections.

The poll body likewise approved the LTFRB's request to exempt the PUV service contracting program and modernization program from the ban.

"We will not delay this further because it's very much needed by our fellow citizens who drive public transportation vehicles. We will not be a burden to them," Garcia said in a separate interview.

"Maybe the national government agencies wanted to make sure. It's one way to avoid possible complaints. If I were in their shoes of the [local government agencies] or national government agencies, I will also ask for extensions. As much as possible, we will not deny applications for exemption especially when the ones requesting is a national government agency in connection to the their regular duties," he added.

The Comelec's law department, on the other hand, has clarified that it will not have any impact on the conduct of the 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) in any way.

It should also involve the distriution of assistance to individual in crisis situation except "those which are normally given to qualified individuals such as, but not limited to basic needs in the form of food, transportation, medical, educational, burial, and other similar assistance."

The poll body earlier exempted the Department of Social Welfare and Development's request to be exempted from the same ban to bring financial aid to retailers affected by the recent imposition of price cap on regular and well-milled rice.

Incumbent barangay oficials caught distributing money without the Comelec's consent could be charged criminally and administratively and could be imprisoned for one to six years due to premature campaigning until Oct. 18, 2023.

vuukle comment

BARANGAY ELECTIONS

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS

FUEL SUBSIDY

JEEPNEY

OIL PRICE HIKES

PUBLIC UTILITY VEHICLES

SANGGUNIANG KABATAAN ELECTIONS

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