Capitol cannot be stopped from giving out El Niño assistance

Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) chief Baltazar Tribunalo assured the Provincial Government will continue to help towns and cities greatly affected by El Niño.

Despite the prohibition of release and disbursement of public funds during election period, he emphasized that Capitol cannot be stopped from giving assistance to affected communities.

According to the Omnibus Election Code, release of funds is prohibited during election period and distribution of calamity assistance can only be done by the Philippine Red Cross and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

“It doesn’t matter who will handle the distribution as long as all assistance will be given out to the victims of the dry spell,” expressed Tribunalo.

Commission on Elections Regional Director Jose Nick Mendros said disbursement of public funds in response to calamities can be allowed if LGUs file a petition at the office of the Clerk of COMELEC.

A hearing will then be conducted to decide if COMELEC will approve the petition, he added.

“If approved, LGUs can already distribute said relief assistance instead of Red Cross and DSWD. However, candidates and their families are still banned in the distribution,” said Mendros.

Tribunalo said a letter was already sent to COMELEC requesting that the Provincial Government be allowed to continue giving relief assistance to El Niño-affected communities.

“I’m confident that the COMELEC will give a positive feedback in favor to the people affected by El Niño,” he expressed.

The Provincial Board declared Cebu Province under state of calamity again this year due to the continuing destruction of El Niño phenomenon.

Declaration of state of calamity allows the Provincial Government to use its calamity funds to purchase various supplies as relief assistance for the affected communities.

For 2016, Cebu Province has allocated Php 33 million for quick response funds.

Tribunalo said Php 25 million of this will be used for El Niño relief assistance as well as preparations for La Niña which will follow after the dry spell.

El Niño relief assistance include water tanks and pumps, jerry cans, hoses, pipes, vegetable seeds and seedlings, veterinary supplies, food packs and school supplies, among others.