Comelec cuts building budget to fund barangay, SK polls-A A +A
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
INSTEAD of 11 floors, the new headquarters of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Pasay City will only be seven floors as the poll body has used up a portion of its savings for the conduct of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls next month.
"We need to cut our building from 11 floors to seven to eight floors to accommodate the barangay elections... Inuubos namin savings namin dahil diyan," Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. told the House committee on appropriations during the deliberations on their 2014 budget Wednesday.
Brillantes said the poll body has P6 billion in savings. Of the total, Comelec would need to use P2.3 billion as additional budget for the successful and orderly conduct of the October elections.
Comelec is set to transfer to its own building, which is still under construction, along Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City from its rented offices at Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros, Manila.
Brillantes meanwhile intends to talk to the House leadership on the proposal of Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to postpone the SK elections until next year to give way for the implementation of reforms in the youth council, which has been branded as a breeding ground for corruption.
On Tuesday, the Senate committee on local government has agreed to recommend the postponement of the SK polls and instead hold it on October 2014.
Brillantes said that they do not oppose Marcos' proposal.
"We would rather postpone it and probably synchronize it in 2016 (presidential elections), mas mabuti pa," Brillantes said.
He added that the poll body would also rather have the youth council abolished and the SK chairman sit in the barangay council.
"Ang proposal namin wala nang election ng kagawad sa SK, isa na lang, SK chairman. Siya lang naman sume-sweldo eh...Pag maganda napostpone yan, tumakbo barangay na walang SK, then we will move for the abolition already kaya parang testing 'yun," Brillantes said.
Brillantes, they are willing to wait for the decision of lawmakers until about two weeks before the October 28 polls. "We can wait until the end of the month. We can even wait until the first parts of October," he said.
He added that the additional time allowance came since there is not much expenditure concerning the SK polls until about mid-October.
"If it is approved anytime as long as it comes two weeks prior to Election Day, it is okay with us. Anyway, we have yet to pay the teachers by that time," said the Comelec chair.
Brillantes said Comelec will save at least P80 million if Congress will enact a law postponing the SK elections.
He explained that majority of Comelec expenses in the SK polls is on the payment for public school teachers serving as Board of Election Tellers (BETs).
Brillantes said that about P63 million is allocated for the honorarium of BETs and another P5 million in printing the SK ballots.
Kabataan party-list Representative Terry Ridon criticized Comelec for the "flawed logic" behind the planned postponement of SK elections.
"If the postponement of SK elections pushes through, the allegedly corrupt system and officials will only be given a term extension. The logic behind the postponement is clearly flawed," Ridon said. (Kathrina Alvarez/HDT/Sunnex)