Comelec chief threatens to quit post-A A +A
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
MANILA (Updated, 4:17 p.m.) -- The chairman of the poll body on Wednesday said he will resign from his post if the Budget department will not return the P5-billion budget it slashed from the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will leave the poll body with no choice but to revert to manual elections after it allocated a budget way below the poll body's proposal.
"I will not administer a manual election. We will insist that they return to us the P5 billion," Brillantes said in an ambush interview.
In a hearing of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms, Brillantes explained to lawmakers that the Comelec has asked P24 billion from the DBM for the conduct of the May 2013 midterm elections and the October barangay elections, among others.
DBM, however, cut the proposed P24-billion budget to P13 billion. Brillantes then asked for an additional budget of at least P4 billion but the budget agency instead further reduced the Comelec's budget to P8 billion.
According to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, the DBM decided to slash the budget of the poll body after it saved at least P5.2 billion from the purchase of precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.
Comelec purchased over 80,000 PCOS machines from Venezuelan-firm Smartmatic Corporation for P1.8 billion.
"His (Abad) position is completely erroneous. The P7 billion will not only cover the hardware and software. It will cover services so we don't really have savings," Brillantes argued before the House panel.
Brillantes has already written to Abad to return the poll body's budget.
"If they're not giving us P5 billion, we'll have problems in giving (salary to) teachers, the military for peace and order and the barangay elections in October," he said.
Malacañang supported Abad's position on the Comelec budget.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the poll body has enough resources and is capable of augmenting its regular budget.
"I think Comelec should look into their savings. I think they have substantial savings in their budget," Lacierda said.
The Palace official said Abad has told him that Comelec has ample savings to proceed with the automated elections. "They have enough savings. That should not be a problem. The automated elections (in 2013) will continue," he said.
Deputy Speaker Jesus Crispin Remulla, meanwhile, vowed that the House of Representatives will support the budgetary request of the Comelec.
Abad on Tuesday submitted the proposed 2013 national budget to Congress. Deliberations in the House appropriations committee will start on August. (Kathrina Alvarez/Jill Beltran/Sunnex)