THE Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday urged citizens to report barangay chairpersons or officials who use their positions or government resources to support political campaigns.
Merilo Limbaro, head of the DILG in Davao, said barangay officials cannot openly support local or national candidates and are not allowed to use their barangays’ funds and resources such as vehicles for electoral campaigns as they are supposed to be non-partisan.
He explained that the non-partisan character of barangay officials is based on the Omnibus Election Code, which states that no person running for barangay office shall represent any political party or any other organization.
Limbaro encouraged citizens to report violations by barangay officials to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to help promote transparency. But he stressed that those who will report should substantiate their claims.
Ensuring the implementation of the Fair Election Act or Republic Act 9006 and other election laws is one of the DILG’s roles in the electoral campaign, he said.
He cited that one of the prohibited acts imposed on candidates is appointing of plantilla positions within a year before an election by a government official who is running for public office other than a post in the barangay level. This move, Limbaro said, is a form of vote buying as it will entice the appointee to vote for the appointing official.
Implementing projects within the campaign period, except those that have been started before the said period, is also prohibited, he said.
He added that medical missions, among other community outreach programs that are regularly conducted in a village, are allowed. But posting of tarpaulins and other signs that promote an electoral candidate during the activity and in the vicinity of the venue is prohibited.
Limbaro admitted that the DILG has no mechanism on how to spot barangay officials accepting solicitations from candidates, and thus urged citizens to report such violations to the Comelec. Citizens’ participation, he noted, is one way of telling candidates that the voters have high awareness on fair electoral practices. lorie ann cascaro of mindanews