No budget for Bangsamoro, Cha-cha plebiscites — Comelec
Officials from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) have admitted during discussions at the House of Representatives that the agency has no budget for the plebiscites on the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and the proposed Charter change (Cha-cha).
“There is no provision for the Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite,” a presenter from the Comelec told the House Committee on Appropriations’ hearing on Monday, which was also attended by Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abbas, Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, and other officials.
According to the presentation, the expenses for a plebiscite in the areas covered by the BOL in Mindanao would cost P854 million.
When ACT Partylist Representative Antonio Tinio asked where the Comelec would obtain the funds for a possible plebiscite on the BOL and Cha-cha, in case a shift to a federal form of government is initiated, officials of the poll body said the commission would still request it from Congress.
“Tama po ‘yan sir, hihingi pa rin po kami sa inyo. I think the projected siguro mga six to eight billion nationwide (That’s correct, Sir. We will still ask from you. I think the projected budget nationwide is six to eight billion [pesos] nationwide),” Abbas said.
Abbas also agreed with Tinio that the Comelec cannot channel funds from other sources, such as savings, in case a plebiscite is required.
However, he said they would look into the possibility that the plebiscite on Charter change would be inserted in the ballots for the 2019 midterm elections — if the law allows it, especially since ballots would not be printed until January 2019.
Comelec Deputy Executive Director for Operations Jose Tolentino added that he believes the commission can accommodate such measures, whether it is an automated or manual election.
“It might be possible because we were looking at only two questions or one question, parang additional kandidato lang (candidate only),” Tolentino said.
“Usually under our rules, it (plebiscite) is manual,” Abbas said. “But, kaya nga sabi ko Sir depende sa batas, kapag sabihin no’ng batas automated, then i-automate namin (As I said, it depends on the law, if they will specify that it is automated, then we will automate it).” /ee
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