Daily Tribune : Honor in poll honoraria

25 October 2021

By Art Besana | Daily Tribune

Every election season, Comelec grants honoraria and overtime pay to deputized provincial, city and municipal treasurers, including their support personnel.

We are now only 193 days from the national and local elections on 9 May 2022. The election period is from 9 January to 8 June 2022.

The gun ban will be in effect; the bearing, carrying or transporting of guns and other deadly weapons will be prohibited.

The campaign period for president, vice president, senators and party lists start from 8 February to 7 May; for congressional posts and local government positions, from 25 March to 7 May.

There were times when elections in our country were turbulent. If not in all places, but in many places.

We had the gun ban, liquor ban, and checkpoints. Army and police forces were on high alert.

Until now, we still have many prohibitions being enforced. Emotions usually run high and temperaments are easily provoked.

There has been talks among our forebears who thought of holding elections after passing through the periods of Advent, Lent and Deliverance from wrongdoings.

Our early leaders who were deep in divine remission fixed the election period from January to June.

Let them experience the blessings of Advent, let them free themselves from the bonds of evil in Lent, let them glorify the Almighty in His Resurrection and let them vote in the festive mood of May.

Every time the country holds national and local elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec), pursuant to its constitutional mandate, deputizes the provincial, city and municipal treasurers, including their support personnel, to perform election-related duties, specifically the custody, allocation and distribution of election supplies, materials and paraphernalia, and most importantly, secure and safeguard ballots and ballot boxes, so that the voice of the people manifested by their sacred right to vote is protected and preserved for posterity through an orderly, peaceful and credible national and local elections.

Every election season, Comelec grants honoraria and overtime pay to deputized provincial, city and municipal treasurers, including their support personnel, who perform election-related duties.

In the 13 May 2019 national and local elections, under its Resolution 10485, promulgated on 23 January 2019, it provided: “Sec. 4. Honoraria of the Chair and Members of the Board of Canvassers (BoC). The Chairman and Members of the BoC shall receive an honorarium of P12,000 each for services rendered.”

“The honorarium of the Consolidation and Canvassing System Operator (CCSO) shall be the same as that of the members of the BoC.”

“The Reception and Custody Group shall receive P10,000.”

The support staff shall also be entitled to an honorarium of P5,000.

The honorarium granted by the Comelec under its Resolution 10485 was prudent, but its implementation by local government units (LGU) was appalling and unreasonable.

Comelec authorized the chairperson and members of the BoC to receive an honorarium of only P12,000 each for services rendered, but some LGU, without any legal basis, allowed these chairperson and members of the BoC to receive P30,000 each, and worse, some local governments paid them twice or an overpayment of P48,000.

The country has 81 provincial treasurers, 145 city treasurers, and 1,489 municipal treasurers, plus thousands of support personnel under them.

This form of abuse may be considered by Comelec as an election offense. And every voter should know the penalty for such an offense.

Having been resident auditor of Comelec for over four years, from 1984 to 1988, I felt the imperative need for guidelines on the grant of honorarium.

On 15 October 2019, I wrote a letter to Secretary Wendel Avisado respectfully proposing the issuance by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) of a budget circular to rationalize the grant of honorarium to local treasurers and other LGU personnel who are deputized by the Comelec during the conduct of national and local elections.

Last 6 March 2020, Myrna Chua, Assistant Secretary, DBM, endorsed my concern to chairman Sheriff M. Abas, Comelec, through Director Julio Thaddeus P. Hernan, Administrative Services Department, stating among others that the Commission being the body mandated to oversee the conduct of national and local elections can assess the viability of my proposal.