Brillantes: Trips abroad not necessary

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 05 2012 05:41 PM | Updated as of Nov 06 2012 01:41 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes said some of the frequent overseas trips of poll body officials are not necessary.

Brillantes answered a crisp “hindi (no)” or no when asked if the trips are necessary.

Brillantes explained though that some invitations are really just hard to turn down.

International Foundation for Electoral Systems earlier invited him and Commissioner Armando Velasco to observe the November 6 US Presidential Elections.

Brillantes declined the invitation due to heavy workload.

He sent, instead, newly-appointed Commissioner Grace Padaca, who had to seek the Sandiganbayan’s nod. She has a pending graft case there.

Brillantes said he offered the invitation to all, but Padaca was eventually chosen since her workload was not that heavy yet.

Commissioner Rene Sarmiento just returned from observing elections in Mongolia. Commissioners Elias Yusoph and Christian Robert Lim, on the other hand, came from their Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom trips. Commissioner Lucenito Tagle was supposed to go to Australia.

Brillantes says Padaca is expected to submit a report when she returns.

Velasco and Sarmiento are retiring in February.

The Poll body’s budget for travel was raised several fold since 2011.

In 2011, the poll body’s travel budget was just at over P28.4 million. In 2012, this became P41.6 million.

For election year 2013, Comelec proposed a travel budget of over P1 billion. The Department of Budget cut this down to P199.33 million.