By Samuel P. Medenilla, April 24 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Philippine Star

GOVERNMENT agencies should still get the approval of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) before they could start the rehabilitation of quake- damaged infrastructures.

In an interview, Comelec Spokesman James B. Jimenez said such public works are covered by the election ban under Comelec Resolution 10511.

He noted the concerned government agencies should first get the necessary certification of exception from Comelec for the repair of damaged public infrastructures.

“If everything is urgent then nothing is. It does not take a long time to secure an exception. So it is not an unreasonable burden, I think,” Jimenez said.

Construction restrictions

AS of Tuesday, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) have started assessing public infrastructures, roads and bridges damaged by the 6.1-magnitude  earthquake originating in Zambales on Monday.

Under Comelec Resolution 10511, “emergency work necessitated by the occurrences of a public calamity, but such work shall be limited to the restoration of the damaged facility.”

Jimenez said the certification of exception also applies to parties, which will be distributing aid to earthquake victims during the prevailing election ban.

“There is a lot of leeway given to humanitarian reason and activities. But I think it is best if they will ask [permission] from Comelec first,” Jimenez said.

“I would like to advise politicians if they are in the position to disburse aid from public sources to make the effort to get the exemption from Comelec,” he added.

The election ban, which will end on May 12 aims to prevent the use of public funds for poll campaign purposes.

Possible replacements

IN a related development, Jimenez reported they have started assessing the structural integrity of public schools, which will serve as voting centers for the 2019 polls, following the strong earthquake.

“They will have to submit a report to Comelec during the scheduled mancom [management committee] meeting before the end of this week,” Jimenez said.

He said voting centers situated in public schools, which were heavily damaged by the quake, maybe transferred by the Comelec en banc to a new location.

Aside from public schools, other possible venue, which could serve as polling enters, include private schools, village clubs and even churchyards.

“This will depend on the space requirement on what is big enough to accommodate all our voters,” Jimenez said.