Comelec exempts ‘pork’ from election ban

Comelec exempts ‘pork’ from election ban

By Sheila Crisostomo and Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 23, 2013 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has exempted the priority development assistance fund (PDAF), commonly known as “pork barrel,” from the ban on the disbursement of public funds during the 45-day election period.

In Resolution 9660, the Comelec said the “release, disbursement or expenditures of PDAF and other state funds” are not covered by the prohibitions stipulated in Sec. 261 (v) of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC).

The OEC prohibits any public official or employee, including barangay officials and those of government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries, from releasing, disbursing or expending any public funds 45 days before a regular election and 30 days before a special election.

The Comelec has excluded PDAF on the request of incumbent members of the House of Representatives.

But the poll body noted the exemption is subject to several conditions to prevent the funds from being used in the campaign.

Under the resolution, requests for exemption shall be evaluated by the Law Department in its capacity as Campaign Finance Unit that is also looking into the campaign expenses of all candidates in the May 13 polls.

The poll body said “the projects, programs and activities (PPAs) sought to be implemented during the prohibited period of March 29 to May 13 were established before the said period and duly reported to the Commission on Audit (COA).”

Public works projects undertaken by contract through public bidding or negotiated contract awarded before March 29 are also exempted from the ban.

Also exempted are emergency works “necessitated by the occurrence of a public calamity, but limited to the restoration of damaged facility” and “ongoing public works project commenced before the campaign period of other similar projects under foreign agreements.”

Payment for public works projects, purchase of materials and equipment, incidental expenses for wages of watchmen and other laborers employed for the projects, and delivery of materials for public works are likewise excluded.

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