Budget Watch

Senate suspends Comelec budget hearing over unsubmitted docs, info

Rappler.com
Senate suspends Comelec budget hearing over unsubmitted docs, info
Senator Imee Marcos points out that the poll body still requested for an additional P10-billion fund despite the postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections

MANILA, Philippines – An irked Senator Imee Marcos suspended the Commission on Election’s (Comelec) budget hearing on Monday, October 17, after the poll body failed to submit documents that would have addressed senators’ questions for the agency.

“It’s not a happy Monday because I was forced to suspend the Comelec’s budget hearing because they did not submit any data,” Marcos, chair of the Senate committee on electoral reforms and people’s participation, told reporters after the hearing.

“It’s hard to defend, so I decided to just postpone it. If they are unable to submit, we have no choice but to postpone the hearing until November,” she added.

Marcos rebuked Comelec officials for not submitting information requested by senators, including the “outrageous” P10-billion ($169.48 million) additional funding for the postponed village polls.

Marcos pointed out that the poll body still requested for an additional P10-billion fund despite the postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE), which was on top of the P8.4 billion ($142.37 milion) already with the agency.

“They’re insisting that they need P10 billion – more than the presidential elections. It seems inappropriate, especially at a time that everyone is going through a crisis,” she said.

Marcos’ brother, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., signed a law on October 10 postponing the BSKE to October 2023 despite warnings from the Comelec that it would cost the country more if the polls would be suspended anew.

The senator also wanted an explanation on the low voter turnout among overseas Filipino workers in the recent presidential elections, as well as the allegations of non-payment of teachers who went on poll duty last May.

She also wanted to know how the Comelec would address the rampant vote-buying reported in the last polls.

“It’s not a secret that vote-buying was rampant. I was told that it was a problem for the Philippine National Police and the local [government]…. It’s not enough answers, because the Comelec has the election mandate,” Marcos said.

The senator also sought answers on whether Smartmatic would be the poll body’s service provider “forever.” – Rappler.com

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