BAGUIO

Election reform hinges on national budget

ONGOING REGISTRATION. The Commission on Elections in Baguio City will continue its ongoing voters' registration for biometrics procedure Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays will be dedicated to disinfection procedures. (Photo by Neil Clark Ongchangco)

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has favored the refurbishment of existing Vote Counting Machines (VCM) instead of pursuing a hybrid system of elections.

Lawyer John Paul Martin, Comelec Baguio election supervisor, said if Senate Bill No. 7, filed by Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Cynthia Villar, is passed, the Comelec will need a bigger budget.

“The government’s situation as of the moment is on combating the coronavirus, wherein previous budgets allotted for its various operations have been diverted in the fight against Covid. The possible reform for our election process would still depend on the availability of funds,” Martin said.

Based on the electoral system reform filed in the Senate, the use of manual voting and counting at the precinct level and electronic transmission and canvassing is being proposed.

“If the budget for a hybrid election would be available, then the commission will abide by the electoral reform. What would be probable as of the moment would be the refurbishment of our existing VCM’s to comply with election requirements for the 2022 Presidential and National Elections,” Martin stated.

Comelec originally proposed P30.673 billion for 2021 in preparation for the 2022 elections.

The Department of Budget and Management, however, slashed it into half, providing P14.6 billion under the National Expenditures Program.

“As of the moment, the use of additional VCM machines for the 2022 Presidential and National Elections here in the city is highly possible because of the increasing number of registrants that we are experiencing,” Martin added.

Comelec Baguio is informing all prospective registrants of its new schedule starting November 3.

Voters' registration for biometrics procedure will now be Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays will be dedicated to disinfection procedures.

Comelec has continued to remind prospective registrants to download and fill out the voter’s registration and health certification forms from the commission's website and Facebook page and book online for their scheduled biometrics procedure provided by the commission.


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