A leader of the House of Representatives urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to exempt select few projects from the election spending ban that comes with the 2022 polls.
Civil Service and Professional Regulation Committee chair and Iligan City Representative Frederick Siao said the still undisbursed special risk allowance (SRA), compensation, and benefits of healthcare frontliners must be among those exempted.
Siao said Comelec should also exclude projects and programs covering education funds for scholarships, financial assistance, remote learning, limited face-to-face classes, and for classrooms to be reopened fully in the next school year.
“Instead of seeking exemptions for almost everything, exempt those select few projects deserving of exemption because of the urgent need to meet deadlines and to address critical public service necessities,” the legislator said.
“I suggest the agencies already give Comelec the heads up or advance word on which projects will most certainly fall within the election spending ban period,” the lawmaker added.
He said government agencies that would be affected by the spending ban should instead maximize the weeks before and after such ban.
“If they must work in three shifts to cover a 24/7 cycle, they should so that the jobs get done well, on time, no delays.”
“If they must work in three shifts to cover a 24/7 cycle, they should so that the jobs get done well, on time, no delays,” Siao stressed.
He appealed to the various executive agencies to double time or triple time on spending their 2021 and carryover 2020 funds, so that the Filipino people will derive maximum gain from those public funds, especially with nine weeks left for 2021.
Siao said the agencies now have the chance “to do much better” with the gradual reopening of the economy in November and December.
“Instead of declaring any yet-unspent funds as savings or returning them to the National Treasury, those should be spent on the originally-intended projects, programs, and services. They should not be for later release at this point because there is no more later after the nine weeks ahead of us,” he explained.
Siao also said best efforts must be taken to fill the still unfilled or vacant personnel positions budgeted for hiring this year.
“Please do not delay hiring because that means funds unspent and service not rendered to the people.”
“Please do not delay hiring because that means funds unspent and service not rendered to the people,” he said.
Siao said he is not inclined to support any further extension of the already extended 2020 maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and capital outlays that were not spent last year.