By Leslie Ann Aquino
The Commission on Elections is still waiting for the structural integrity assessment of public schools affected by the 6.1 magnitude earthquake that struck Metro Manila and parts of Luzon, Monday.
Public schools will serve as voting centers in the May 13 midterm polls.
“Right now the voting centers will be the focus of evaluation of our field officials,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said in an interview Tuesday.
“That is another thing we didn’t expect that we have to monitor over the next few days. There are only 20 days so it is one of the things we didn’t expect to monitor, but we are going to do it,” he added.
Jimenez assured that they already had a contingency plan in the event that there some public schools cannot be used for the elections.
“We have an order of preference. After public schools, we can go to other public schools, private schools, all the way to village club houses and even church yards,” he said.
When asked regarding their local Comelec offices, Jimenez said there has been no major damage in terms of infrastructure.
Meanwhile, Jimenez advised candidates planning to provide aid to the earthquake victims to seek permission from the poll body to avoid the possibility of committing an election offense.
“There is a lot of leeway given to humanitarian reasons, humanitarian activities. But I think it is best if they seek permission from the Comelec,” he said.
“For humanitarian reasons or for extreme contingencies, you can ask for exemptions. That is way better than just disbursing cash,” added Jimenez.
“When you disburse funds (during the campaign period), that can be a violation, unless you are exempted,” he said.
Jimenez said they will immediately act on such requests as they are aware of their immediacy.
Based on Comelec Resolution No. 10429, the release, disbursement, or expenditures of public funds are prohibited from March 29 to May 12.