By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
An election officer in Negros Occidental’s Himamaylan City expressed readiness to face administrative cases which may be filed against him in relation to the unpaid support staff hired for the local elections.
Romeo Palma, acting city election officer, admitted that an honest mistake was committed, stating that he overlooked the details of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) resolution indicating the prohibition of hiring support staff for the recently-concluded barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
Palma said they recruited 211 support staff, as they intended to pay them P5,500 each.
He also emphasized the payment request for the staff, while awaiting Comelec’s decision after a formal investigation.
Palma expressed optimism that the support staff would receive their pay.
The Himamaylan City government was initially prepared to assist the unpaid support staff, as they sought legal grounds before providing the aid.
Earlier, Atty. Dennis Ausan, Comelec in Western Visayas regional director, said they are also scrutinizing the issue of unpaid support staff in neighboring Kabankalan City.
Ausan said that the formal investigation has concluded, as they await the decision of the Comelec Central Office.
As per assurance from Comelec last week, the honorarium for the 660 support staff in Kabankalan is pending its decision.
Kabankalan Mayor Benjie Miranda revealed that the support staff had not received their honoraria “due to an honest mistake made by the Office of the City Election Officer in Kabankalan in the process of hiring their services.”
Ausan said that possible administrative and criminal liabilities of the election officers in the two local government units are still unknown./DGB, WDJ