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PHILIPPINE ELECTION IN THE TIME OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC

P8B more needed to lessen number of voters in cluster precincts – poll body

/ 03:17 PM September 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will need at least P8 billion to lessen the number of voters in cluster precincts for the 2022 national elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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During a hearing of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Automated Election System on Wednesday, Caloocan City 2nd District Rep. Edgar Erice asked Comelec how much fund it would need to reduce the number of voters in cluster precincts from the planned 800 to 600 voters.

“As computed by our finance department, we need at least an additional of P8 billion, I guess. ‘Yun po ‘yung naging (That was the) computation the last time,” Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo responded.

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According to the poll body official, P8 billion would cover the additional voting machines, more precincts, and manpower, among other projected costs.

He explained that additional voting machines and manpower would allow more precincts to prevent the crowding of voters in a voting room or venue amid the persistent threat of COVID-19.

Erice supported Comelec’s need for additional funding.

“Maybe the committee can help the Comelec para pakiusapan natin ‘yung national government to provide P8 billion. Maliit lang na halaga ‘yun para sa safety ng mga voters para sa mas maayos ng eleksyon,” he said.

(Madam chair, maybe the committee can help the Comelec to ask the national government to provide P8 billion. That’s a small amount for the safety of voters in the 2022 elections.)

P8B more needed to lessen number of voters in cluster precincts – poll body

This file photo shows a Commission on Elections staff member during the May 13, 2019, midterm elections. INQUIRER/LYN RILLON

Joint panel chair, Senator Imee Marcos, likewise backed Comelec’s proposed additional P8 billion, noting that the amount could also further increase.

“Sige, sama-sama tayo diyan. Ilagay natin ‘yung P8 billion na kinakailangan ng Comelec. Maliban ‘to sa additional budget for elections day, kundi sa iba’t-iba pang kinakailangan,” she said.

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(Ok, we’re in it together. Let’s put the P8 billion that Comelec needs. This is separate from the additional budget for election day, but this is for several other needs.)

Casquejo shared that the Comelec will conduct a simulation on Sunday, September 19, to see how many voting hours should be extended on election day.

Earlier, the government has trimmed by 37 percent Comelec’s proposed budget of P41.9 billion for 2022 to P26.4 billion.

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TAGS: 2022 elections, budget, cluster precints, Comelec, pandemic, vote
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