Comelec needs P8.2 billion for new building, says Garcia
MANILA, Philippines — Newly appointed Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman George Erwin Garcia on Wednesday said the poll body might need a new building in the wake of the fire that broke out in its office over the weekend.
Garcia said that a total of P8.2 billion is needed for the building.
The chairman admitted that the amount is hefty as the country is still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic and said Congress could allot a small amount to jump-start the construction.
“The building will cost P8.2 billion pesos,” Garcia said in a press briefing held at Comelec office in Intramuros, Manila. “Malaki, sobrang laki, kasi po naghihirap ang ating bansa, pero kahit initial lang po muna para makapag-hukay-hukay lang ng konti doon.”
(It’s a big [amount] because our country is suffering, but even an initial amount would do so they could start digging there.)
“Alam ko po … na napaka-tight ng ating budget, alam natin yan because of the pandemic situation … alam ko po na pwede maka-antay ang building. Kaya lang baka naman kahit kakarampot ‘yung kailangan sa building namin ay dahan-dahan. Hindi naman po isang taon lang nandiyan ang budget. Pwede po yan ten years, sa bawat appropriation na ilalagay, para lang nakakapagsimula tayo,” Garcia also said.
(I know … that our budget is so tight right now because of the pandemic situation … I know that this building could wait. But we only need a small amount to [start the building] bit by bit. The budget does not have to be there in a year. It could be given for ten years, to be put in every appropriation, so we could begin.)
The Comelec office at the Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros, Manila, caught fire that reached the second alarm on Sunday night.
At present, the Comelec has offices on the building’s fifth, seventh, and eighth floors, which also house the Intramuros Administration and other agencies.
But the Comelec has a three-hectare property along Macapagal Avenue in Pasay City, which could be used as a site for the new building, according to Garcia.
According to Garcia, the poll body also has a prepared design for an eight-story building that would become the new Comelec office if the budget for it gets granted.
The Department of Budget and Management will submit a budget proposal to Congress, but the Comelec needs to make a request and other procedures.
Garcia also said he has talked with Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman concerning the project.
“Kahapon naka-receive ako ng text sa kanya, (Yesterday I have received a text from him) inquiring about the extent of the preparation as far as the building is concerned,” Garcia said.
“Ibig sabihin, mukhang pagbibigyan na yang aming request na yan,” the chairman said.
(Meaning, our request may be granted.)
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