For Cebu City election inspectors: No funds yet for poll duty

Jean Marvette A. Demecillo (The Freeman) - April 21, 2016 - 10:00am

CEBU, Philippines - It's now a little over two weeks to the May 9 national and local elections but Cebu City still has not set aside a budget for the honoraria of at least 3,000 teachers who will serve as the Board of Election Inspectors during the elections.

City Treasurer Diwa Cuevas said the city will supposedly give P1,500 to each of the 3,047 teachers who will serve in the elections. This means the city needs over P4.5 million to pay the honoraria of these teachers.

"Mao na ang kuwang. Part na unta sa P40 million (election reserve) kay ang necessary gyud is ang honorarium sa BEIs and ang overtime pay sa among opisina," she said.

Cuevas said the budget is supposed to be part of the P40 million under the P6.4-billion 2016 Annual Budget.

However, the Department of Budget and Management declared the 2016 annual budget as inoperative for failing to provide an allocation for the city's contractual obligation which is the payment of the South Road Properties loan.

With this, executive department pushed for a P9.8-billion revised annual budget for this year.

Since the city's 2016 annual budget was declared inoperative, Cuevas said the city is operating on a reenacted budget.

"Amoa karon is asa kuhaon ang budget kun dili pa ma-approve ang revised budget," she said.

The revised budget is now with the City Council for its approval. However, the City Council's committee on budget and finance is conducting a budget hearing on the proposed budget for the year.

Two budget hearings have already been cancelled due to lack of quorum.

This is why Cuevas is worried about the honorarium of the BEIs.

During the March 30 regular session, the City Council approved a P15.8-million election reserve for the Commission on Elections to defray expenses for the May 9 elections.

The resolution, which was sponsored by City Councilor Margarita Osmeña, approved the budget and charging of the amount under the City Sponsored Activities account of the city for 2015.

Cuevas said the ho-norarium of the BEIs was not included in the approved election reserve.

She said P9 million of the amount was allocated for the training and retraining of third parties and the rest was for the purchase of election supplies.

Once the revised annual budget will be approved, Cuevas said the P15.8 million election reserve will be deducted from the P40 million election reserve and will go back to the city sponsored activities account in the 2015 budget.

When sought for comment, Osmeña said the executive department can just go to her office and request for this budget.

"What's the problem? We can charge that against city sponsored account, just like the P15.8 million," she said.

If Cuevas will make the request from her office, Osmeña said she will draft a resolution to utilize the city sponsored account, but with the condition that the amount charged against city sponsored account will be replaced once the revised budget will be approved.

Supposedly, the honorarium of the BEIs will be distributed to them after the elections.

"Dili i-process dayon kay paabot pa gyud ta sa budget," Cuevas said.

She said Comelec already knew about the situation of the city's budget this year.

Cuevas is hoping that the revised annual budget will be approved by the City Council before Election Day.

She said there are several items under the revised annual budget that are vital, such as the salaries of the newly-hired employees that are not covered under the 2015 reenacted budget, and the mid-year bonus of the City Hall employees.

The City Council has set another schedule for the budget hearing on Tuesday, April 26, at 2 p.m. (FREEMAN)

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