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Comelec asked to exempt relief agencies from election spending ban

By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY --- To ensure the continuity of supply of relief goods to displaced families due to Mayon eruption despite the Barangay and SK elections on October 30, this year, Rep. Joey Salceda of the 2nd district of Albay asked the Commission on Elections to exempt the Department of Social Welfare and Development and other relief agencies from election spending ban.

Salceda, in his letter to the Comelec, said that since warnings of an imminent violent eruption have been known to come and go, evacuation operations might take 45, 90, or 110 days.

“Evacuation efforts must continue until volcanic activity clearly subsides or until a violent eruption actually occurs. Until then, evacuees will require food aid, training activities, cash-for-work programs, and other socioeconomic support to replace economic activities they are barred from doing due to the evacuation orders,” Salceda said.

He said the eruption will displace agricultural, quarrying, ecotourism, and other economic activities in the danger zones, indirectly affecting Albay’s economy as a whole.

Salceda, chairman of the House Ways and Means, asked Comelec chair George Garcia to clarify when the election spending ban will begin, and told the COMELEC that he has submitted a July 22 request from the commission for the exemption from the spending ban.

“On the election spending ban, what happens to the evacuees? Will we stop feeding them?” Salceda asked.

Few days after Salceda sent a letter to the Commission on Elections, Garcia gave a green light to the lawmaker to proceed with the humanitarian efforts.

The commission granted Salceda’s request for spending ban exemption for Mayon evacuation

Garcia told Salceda that he could proceed with humanitarian activities during the ban, and assured Salceda that the Commission will “act promptly” on his request.

According to Garcia, anyone can submit a request for exemption “for humanitarian effort activities.

Salceda expressed gratitude to Garcia for allowing him to continue the humanitarian efforts. “Of course, I appreciate the express permission from the COMELEC Chair, and I trust him fully. But, for clarity, we would still benefit from something in writing,” Salceda said.

As to the upcoming midterm polls, Salceda asked the Commission on Elections to allow OFWs to do internet voting by 2025.

Salceda made the statement during the meeting of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms today, the lawmaker said in a statement.

“I express my support for the COMELEC’s efforts to allow OFW voting fully through the internet by 2025, contingent on a system that protects secret voting and can be audited,” Salceda said.

Salceda also said he will support the COMELEC’s request to provide funding for internet voting, which was slashed from the National Expenditure Program.

“Of course, we hope the system is anonymized and encrypted, as in the case of the countries that do it best,” Salceda added.

Salceda also said that “the only country so far with a nationally pervasive electronic voting system is Estonia.”

Garcia confirmed that the COMELEC was given a demonstration of Estonia’s voting system weeks ago. Salceda manifested his full support for the move by the Commission on Elections to allow overseas Filipino workers to vote through the internet by 2025.


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