MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has yet to rule on a January 18 request filed by Vice President Leni Robredo’s office (OVP) to let them continue their pandemic response projects despite a spending ban in the run-up to the 2022 elections.
The office of acting Comelec Chairperson Socorro Inting said the request had already been raffled off to a ponente or the designated writer of the ruling on February 7, or a day before the campaign period for national posts kicked off in the Philippines.
“We are just waiting for the resolution of the ponencia,” Inting’s legal head Wennie Andres told reporters on Viber on Monday, February 21.
Without clearance from the Comelec, Robredo’s highly-praised coronavirus relief initiatives remain suspended for now.
These programs include the free mobile antigen testing service Swab Cab, free tele-consultation service Bayanihan E-Konsulta, and its drive-through vaccination drive Vaccine Express.
The OVP had tested nearly 10,000 people against COVID-19 as of end-December 2021, and funded over 35,000 extraction and detection kits for help in identifying individuals stricken with coronavirus.
Robredo’s office halted its program on February 4, and inquiries on its Facebook page would get a standard response about the status of its request from the Comelec.
The Omnibus Election Code generally prohibits the use of government offices’ budgets to boost the campaign of candidates.
A December 2021 Comelec resolution on the use of public funds also compels government offices that run social welfare projects to request from the Comelec a certificate of exception for the continued operations of these initiatives. – Rappler.com