Senator slams poll body’s ‘dubious’ land purchase-A A +A
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
ILOILO CITY - Senator Franklin Drilon recently warned the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that their purchase of a P1.19 billion property without approval of Congress is a violation of the Constitution that can lead to prosecution for technical malversation of funds.
Drilon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, admitted that he has discovered the anomalous transaction when Comelec had asked for additional budget intended for the holding of the 2013 midterm elections.
Drilon said the poll body has huge savings that could be used for the elections, yet they are still asking for funding and even threatened to stop the 2013 elections without the additional budget.
“There appears to be a gross violation of the Constitution when the Comelec decided to use their P3.5 billion savings to purchase a piece of land worth P1,188,865,295.82,” Drilon said.
The Comelec had entered into a contract with the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) to purchase a P1.19 billion property and of the amount, P250 million was already advanced to the PRA.
Drilon said that under the Constitution, the Comelec may by law, be authorized to augment any item or in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for the office from savings in other items of the respective appropriations.
The GAA clearly states that the Comelec can only use its savings to augment funding for projects that exist in the appropriations act or which the Congress has previously authorized, but the poll body cannot use its savings to fund and to create new projects such as the purchase of land and building without any authorization from Congress.
The poll body cannot invoke its fiscal autonomy as a constitutional body and use its savings to purchase land and building without securing any approval of Congress, Drilon said.
Drilon said that without any appropriation for a main building and field office in the 2012 General Appropriations Act, the Comelec realigned its savings to buy land and building, but this purchase is not authorized in the budget.
There is no authority under the 2012 General Appropriations Act for Comelec to purchase land for a building. That is the role of Congress to appropriate for specific items.