Mayor Guia Gomez still awaiting Comelec decision in relation to the recall elections

UNTV News   •   December 28, 2017   •   7079

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) upheld the petition for recall elections filed by the supporters of former San Juan Vice Mayor Francis Zamora against the city’s incumbent Mayor Guia Gomez.

However, until now, the camp of Mayor Guia has yet to receive a copy of the decision of the poll body.

Comelec, meanwhile, clarifies that the 3-day deadline for the Mayor’s submission of a motion for reconsideration will begin once Guia receives the said ruling.

“We have yet to receive proof that it has already been served to her. We are not counting the days. So I think, the latest we know about that is she was out of the country. So we’ll see what happens when the en banc resumes session next week,” Comelec Spokesperson Dir. James Jimenez said.

The said petition already has 30,000 signatures.

However, Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito, the son of Mayor Gomez, claims San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora and his son Francis are bribing the residents to sign the said petition.

According to Comelec, they have yet to receive any appeals or complaints from San Juan residents that they are being coerced to support the recall election petition of the former vice mayor.

“Well the signatures are affixed by people and it’s the people’s choice if they will sign or not. I have not received any report or whatever. But in general, Comelec cannot really look into why a person signed unless they have proof, that they are coerced,” Jimenez said.

Comelec, meanwhile, assured that they are taking fair steps regarding the petition especially since the right of the people is at stake.

“Very important that you monitor the news and make sure na iyong pinaniwalaang balita ay iyong tunay lang — iyong galing lang sa Comelec. Makikita natin in the past, sa mga similar situations, may tendency na naglipanang misinformation. So kaunting ingat lang sa mga botante ng San Juan. Make sure that you are getting the information straight from authorized resources,” said Jimenez.

(Very important that you monitor the news and make sure that the news you hear is true — the one that comes from the Comelec itself. We can see that in the past, in similar situations, there is a tendency to spread misinformation. San Juan has a small voting population. Make sure that you are getting the information straight from authorized resources.) – Aiko Miguel | UNTV News & Rescue

Comelec offices in Intramuros, Regions 4A & 4B closed for disinfection until August 16

Robie de Guzman   •   August 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday announced the temporary closure of its offices in various areas amid the surge of coronavirus disease cases.

In an advisory, Comelec said its main office in Intramuros as well as the offices of the Regional Election Director of the National Capital Region, and Regions IV-A and IV-B will be closed to the public “for extensive disinfection and decontamination.”

The temporary closure will take effect from August 3 to August 16, the poll body said.

Along with the office shutdown, the issuance of local and overseas voters’ certificates in the main office will also be temporarily suspended, Comelec said.

The poll body, however, said, its officers and employees will continue to perform their functions on a work-from-home basis.

For more information, Comelec said it may be reached through email at info@comelec.gov.ph.

Comelec suspends voter registration until March 31 due to COVID-19 threat

Robie de Guzman   •   March 10, 2020

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.

Gatchalian wants tax-free allowances for teachers on poll duty

Robie de Guzman   •   January 21, 2020

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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