Comelec chair stays, gets back P5.2-B

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Comelec will now get its original P13.4 billion proposed budget after DBM decided to return the P5.2 billion it slashed earlier

MANILA, Philippines – There’s no need for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman to resign from his post, now that he will be getting back the P5.2 billion slashed out from its original budget proposal for next year.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has decided to revert to the poll body’s original budget proposal of P13.4 billion, after cutting it to P8.4 billion.

The budget slash prompted Brillantes to threaten to resign.

But now he’s happy. “We have already agreed how the amount can be given back to us. The P5 billion would even be reverted back to us ahead of time,” Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. explained to the House committee on appropriations Wednesday, August 29.

In reducing Comelec’s budget, DBM claimed that the poll body has saved some money after purchasing old machines for the 2013 elections. Comelec exercised in March the “option to purchase” over 80,000 precinct count optical scan machines from Smartmatic Corporation for P1.8 billion.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad had stood firm on this, saying that the budget cut was justified by their assessment. President Benigno Aquino III mediated, saying that he was willing to reconsider restoring the original proposed budget of the poll body.

Brillantes stated that their budget for next year will cover the purchase of ballots, thermal paper, battery packs, marking pens, and compact flash cards. It will also be used for the deployment of PCOS machines and ballot boxes, among others.

At least P6 billion will be spent for the conduct of the May 2013 national and local elections, while P3 billion will be disbursed for the October 2012 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls. –

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