• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
It was an honest mistake.
The statement was made by Election Officer Romeo Palma, referring to the hiring of 211 support staff during the recently concluded Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental.
Palma admitted that he overlooked the Commission on Elections Resolution 10924 that states that for purposes of the October 30, 2023 BSKE, “the hiring of support staff shall not apply.” The hiring of support staff was allowed in previous elections.
The support staff were supposed to be paid P5,500 each.
The Kabankalan City Comelec had also hired 660 support staff and their honoraria totaling close to P3.7 million has not been paid.
Mayor Benjie Miranda said he was told by the Comelec that it was also an “honest mistake.”
Comelec spokesman Atty. John Rex Laudiangco said the Comelec has taken the proactive step of paying the honoraria of all 660 BSKE 2023 support staff in Kabankalan City.
If the Comelec will pay the honoraria of Comelec support staff in Kabankalan, Palma said he is hoping that Comelec will do the same in Himamaylan City.
Regardless of what administrative charges will be filed against them, Palma said he is praying and hoping that the support staff will be paid, as they rendered election duties.
Mayor Rogelio Raymund Tongson, who was informed about the unpaid Comelec support staff who rendered election duties in Himamaylan City, said “if we can do anything on our side, we are ready, for as long as there is a legal basis.”
Comelec Western Visayas regional director Dennis Ausan earlier said that he already forwarded their investigation report as to the hiring of Comelec support staff in the cities of Himamaylan and Kabankalan, for appropriate actions by the Comelec central office.*