House OK on Barangay, SK polls deferment ‘no surprise,’ says Comelec
Robie de Guzman • November 4, 2019 • 516
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday said it is not surprised by the move of the House of Representatives to approve the bill seeking to defer the 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to December 5, 2022.
“This does not come as a surprise,” Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said in a message to reporters. “The COMELEC had, in fact, slowed down preparations for the Barangay Elections of 2020 in anticipation of this legislation.”
Jimenez said that with the impending approval of Congress on the measure, the poll body is now looking to focus on preparing for the next national and local elections.
“With the approval of the House and the looming decision of the Senate on the same matter, the COMELEC is looking forward to focusing on the process of re-starting the continuing registration and, in the longer term, preparing for the 2022 National and Local Elections,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the Lower House gave its nod to a proposal seeking to reschedule the local polls to allow more time for incumbent Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials to implement and complete their respective projects.
After the 2022 elections, subsequent barangay and SK elections will be held on the first Monday of December 2025 and every three years thereafter.
The amended version of the House bill is similar to the one that Senate passed on September 30.
President Rodrigo Duterte, during his fourth State of the Nation Address in July, called on Congress to postpone the village elections.
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has suspended the voter registration until March 31 amid the rising number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the country.
In a statement, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez announced that the suspension will begin on Tuesday, March 10.
“As a response to the growing threat to public health posed by COVID-19, voter registration has been suspended by the Comelec until the 31st of March 2020,” he said.
Jimenez said the suspension takes effect nationwide, encompassing voter registration conducted in all Comelec offices in districts, cities, and municipalities, as well as all satellite registration activities.
“The public is advised to take all necessary precautionary measures to limit their exposure to the possibility of COVID-19 infection,” he added.
The poll body opened the voter registration for the 2022 national elections last January. It was initially set to run until September 30, 2021.
As of posting time, the Philippines has 33 confirmed coronavirus cases.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier declared a public health emergency amid the rising cases of COVID-19 infections in the country.
The DOH also raised Code Red Sublevel 1 after confirming the country’s first case of coronavirus local transmission.
MANILA, Philippines – The voter registration in Batangas and Cavite areas affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano will resume on Monday, February 3, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Thursday.
In a statement, Comelec said the voter registration for the 2022 elections will resume in the following places in Batangas province due to a return to normal working conditions:
In Cavite, the poll body said that registration of voters will also resume in Alfonso, Indang, Silang, Tagaytay City, and Amadeo.
Meanwhile, the voter registration in the municipality of Mataas na Kahoy in Batangas will resume on February 10, according to Comelec.
The poll body earlier announced the suspension of the registration in areas within and beyond the 14-kilometer danger zone of Taal Volcano during its eruption.
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has urged his fellow lawmakers to expedite the passage of a bill seeking to grant tax exemption to the honoraria, transportation allowance and other benefits for public school teachers who will be on duty in the May 2022 elections.
In a statement, Gatchalian said that his measure, Senate Bill No. 1193, primarily introduces amendments to the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 so teachers can receive the full amount of their honoraria and other benefits.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue started imposing five percent withholding tax on poll workers’ election service honoraria and other allowances since the 2018 barangay elections.
The lawmaker stressed that despite the continuous service that these poll workers render to ensure the transmission of results, they still have to pay income tax if their annual taxable income, which includes such honoraria and allowances, exceeds the P250,000 threshold under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.
“Mahabang oras ang inilalaan ng mga guro upang siguruhin ang kaayusan at integridad ng ating mga halalan,” Gatchalian said.
“Kaya naman inihain natin itong panukalang batas na ito upang kilalanin ang kanilang mahalagang papel para pangalagaan ang ating demokrasya,” he added.
The bill also proposes to exclude teachers’ poll honoraria and allowances from gross income. Under the Election Service Reform Act (ESRA), chairpersons of electoral boards are each entitled to receive P6,000. Each member of electoral boards receive P5,000. Department of Education Supervisor Officials (DESO) receive P4,000 each while support staff receive P2,000 each.
A travel allowance of P1,000 is also allotted to each of these poll workers. The ESRA, though, has no provision for tax exemption.
Aside from the necessity of paying income tax despite the poll workers’ arduous work during elections, Gatchalian also lamented the process they have to go through to collect their pay.
To collect their election honoraria and benefits, poll workers have to go to the local Commission on Elections (COMELEC) offices and submit a declaration of exemptions if they earn less than P250,000 annually.
“Napapagod na nga ang ating mga guro tuwing halalan, kailangan pa nilang dumaan sa isang komplikadong proseso para makuha lang nila ang kanilang sahod at mga benepisyo. Kung hindi na papatawan ng buwis ang sahod at benepisyo ng mga guro tuwing halalan, hindi lang sila basta makakatanggap ng kabuuang bayad, mas mapapadali din ang proseso para sa COMELEC,” he said.
Gatchalian believes the proposed measure is the best way to thank teachers and other poll workers for ensuring clean, honest and orderly elections in the country.
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