Election Code prevents Comelec from being independent from LGUS — Commissioner
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said certain legalities, not just a lack of budget, make it impossible to separate the commission from local government units (LGUs).
Guanzon told this to members of the House Committee on Appropriations on Monday during the House hearing for the 2019 proposed budget.
“Our ultimate goal in Comelec includes full independence from local government units, however, there is a law, there is Section 54 of the Omnibus Election Code which says that they (LGUs) are required to give the Comelec our office spaces,” Guanzon said.
She also clarified that most of the time, the transactions between local Comelec offices and LGUs are based on the law — an aspect and a practice seen as improper, but is actually legal.
“Unfortunately, that is often misunderstood, that it is our election officers who are asking for supplies, asking for this and that. But under the law that is the obligation of the local government unit,” she claimed.
Guanzon’s remarks were in response to queries from Iligan City Representative Frederick Siao regarding the alleged dependence of his district’s Comelec office to the local government.
The commissioner passed the ball into the House leadership’s hands, implying that a revision of the Omnibus Election Code may actually be timely.
“If Congress, of course, will amend that law we would be very happy to comply, provided that Congress gives us the appropriations for it,” Guanzon said.
She also pleaded with local executives to stay committed to their mandate of providing election officers a decent office, where they can fulfill their duties.
“Perhaps it’s a good idea Mr. Chair, for the mayors and the governors to be reminded of their legal obligation to the country by providing appropriate and decent offices to our election officers,” Guanzon said. /vvp