Comelec chief hit for land purchaseBy Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Senator Franklin Drilon has criticized Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Sixto Brillantes for setting aside P1.19 billion of the agency’s savings for a piece of property whose purchase had not been provided for under the 2012 national budget.
Drilon, chair of the Senate committee on finance, warned that the Comelec officials could have committed culpable violation of the Constitution and held liable for technical malversation.
The senator issued the warning after Brillantes admitted the purchase of the property had been scheduled during the Comelec’s presentation of its P8.4-billion budget for 2013.
At the Senate’s budget deliberations on Thursday, Brillantes told the committee that it had entered into an agreement with the Philippine Retirement Authority for the purchase of the property and that P250 million has already been paid to the PRA.
Aside from the purchase of the land, the Comelec also plans to build a new building at the site for its use.
Brillantes claimed that the Comelec had fiscal autonomy and thus could set aside its savings as it saw fit. He added that the body had been frugal in the use of its savings.
“You know, Mr. Chair, even the President, when he tries to realign or augment the budget, there must be a particular item in the budget which the President can augment,” Drilon told Brillantes.