The provincial board has petitioned the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in Palawan to exempt significantly typhoon-affected towns from the rule restricting relief, including financial assistance distribution.

The appeal, which was authored by board member Maria Angela Sabando, was made through a resolution that was approved Tuesday by the provincial board. It requests the provincial election officer to allow the province to distribute assistance during the election period for national and local elections 2022.

The provincial government has been undertaking relief operations and distributions in northern Palawan communities weeks after the typhoon hit.

According to Sabando, the period from January to February will not be sufficient to meet the needs of Palaweños, as there are still households in need not only of food but also construction supplies.

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“Sana ma-exempt ang mga bayan na sobrang naapektuhan ng bagyo. Isang buwan na lang po ay February 8 na. Ang February 8 is election ban period. Dahil sa panahon ngayon ay hindi po sapat ang isang buwan na maibigay ang pangangailangan nila specially yong mga food packs at building materials para sa kanilang tahanan,” Sabando said.

“Sana ay payagan ang distribution ng mga donasyon sa mga biktima ng bagyong Odette. Kung pwede sa level lang ng ating provincial election officer,” she added.

According to Comelec Resolution No. 10747, in the event of a disaster, all releases that are normally or usually routed through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and other offices of other departments shall be turned over to, administered, and disbursed by the Philippine Red Cross, which will be overseen by the Commission on Audit (COA).

The resolution also states that no candidate, his or her spouse, or member of his family within the second civil degree of affinity or consanguinity shall participate directly or indirectly in the distribution of any relief or other goods to the victims of the calamity or disaster.

“Napakalaki ng damages na iniwan ng bagyo. Dito ay minumungkahi ko na gamitin ang local government funds, ang hindi lang siguro pwede ay ‘yong appearance ng mga political leaders. Pwede naman siguro na ang donasyon ay through MSWDO basta wala lang appearance ng political leaders ay baka pwede naman mapayagan,” Sabando explained.

Provincial Comelec spokesperson Jomel Ordas said Thursday that they will have to formally receive a copy of the resolution first before they issue a statement.

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is the chief of correspondents of Palawan News. She covers defense, politics, tourism, health, and sports stories. She loves to travel and explore different foods.