Poll bets barred from DSWD payouts
Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - April 23, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has prohibited all local elective officials and politicians in general from attending payouts of national government programs and activities.

DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan E. Malaya, in a statement, said that DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año has issued Memorandum Circular 2019-55 prohibiting all local elective officials and politicians from interfering or even attending payouts and related activities of national government agencies which could be used as a platform to advance their political interests.

"Dapat lang," said Cebu Third District Representative and gubernatorial candidate Gwendolyn Garcia.

"Yes, that’s good kay ang uban grabe kaayo, mang hulga pa. Then simple instruction lang sa tarps dili gani mosunod," said Tuburan Mayor Aljun Diamante about the memo.

Diamante, who is also the president  of the  League of Municipalities of the Philippines-Cebu Chapter, said that there are some local candidates who are so "epal" by joining ribbon cutting and other activities of the national government agencies even if those candidates has nothing to do with it.

"Sakto gyud na.  Especially, it’s not a local government project pareha sa Malasakit Program. Gi-epalan gyud," said Mandaue City Vice Mayor Carlo Pontico Fortuna.

Fortuna added the most the local officials can do is to assist the constituents for their transportation and other needs since the distribution (like the social pension) is only done in one venue.

Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera said that this should be the case.

"Just like the memo sa DepEd prohibiting candidates from gracing the commencement exercise, feedbacks are very good and should be sustained even during non-election years," Garganera said.

Former Cebu City mayor Michael Rama said that this is a good directive but the problem is with the implementation.

"That is a very good directive.  Ang problema, ma-implement ba? Kay ang mga kandidato karon kay pabaga-ay sa ilang mga nawong. Kay ang tinguha karon sa mga kandidato kay mga boto sa katawhan. Bisan di ilang projects, pataka lang og angkon. Naay directive unya naay ma-punish ana. There is a memo but punishment is not guaranteed among violators," Rama said.

Cordova Mayor Mary Therese Sitoy-Cho, for her part, sees no problem with the memo because this has allegedly been their practice in their town.

Malaya said that the Code of Conduct of Government Officials requires public officials and employees to be more circumspect in their activities especially during this campaign season.

Malaya said that the DILG has received reports from other national government agencies, including the Department of Social Welfare and Development, that some local elective officials are exerting undue influence over the payouts of government programs and activities for the purpose of indirectly endorsing their own candidacies for this year’s midterm elections.

He said that some politicians attempted to hijack the distribution of DSWD’s Unconditional Cash Transfer program.

"We cannot and will not tolerate any politician to speak during the release of assistance. The payout cannot be linked to any candidate or political party,” Malaya said.

He added that the DILG is dismayed that politicians are using the payout to advance their own political ambitions despite appeals from the DSWD not to do so. (FREEMAN)

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