Comelec to probe on viral video of alleged pre-shading of ballots

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 16, 2019   •   2017

Courtesy: Kabataan Partylist Facebook page

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to probe the viral video showing the alleged “pre-shading” of ballots in Lanao del Sur.

According to Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez, the poll body will request the assistance of experts for forensic analysis. They will also seek the assistance of Facebook.

“Magre- request kami ng assistance from Facebook (We will request the assistance of Facebook) and perhaps refer it to the appropriate authorities for forensic analysis [but] we’re not dismissing it as fake. We’re not ready to make that determination yet. Alamin muna natin detalye ng video (We should first know the details of the video),” Jimenez said.

Comelec also calls on the video uploaders to come forward to expedite the process of investigation.

“We encourage whoever has information on this video to come forward and file a complaint. If it’s the original uploader themselves, then so much the better,” Jimenez adds.

However, Comelec cannot suspend the entire elections just because of speculations.

Meanwhile, the Board of Canvassers already tallied 114 Certificates of Canvass until 12:00 a.m.

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.

Tales of bayanihan amid Taal Volcano eruption

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 17, 2020

People from across the country, and even overseas, did not hesitate to lend a hand to their fellowmen after Taal Volcano erupted on Sunday (January 12).

Netizen Marj Jorie is proud of her husband who hosed down the windshields of passing cars that were covered with ashfall.

The PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) along with other volunteers rescued animals who got left behind or lost due to the heavy ashfall brought by the Taal eruption.

This eatery in Batangas is giving free food to all evacuees.

Not missing the chance to help, farmers in Benguet also donated vegetables to the residents of Batangas.

Despite his disability, this man gave away free masks to passengers and drivers in Metro Manila after Taal ashfall found its way to the region.

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