Comelec now has budget for ARMM polls


Posted at Feb 14 2011 01:55 PM | Updated as of Feb 15 2011 01:06 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) assured the public that it has savings from the last national elections that it could use for the polls in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes would prefer, however, that Congress already prepare an amendatory law that would postpone the ARMM elections and pave the way for a more prepared mid-term elections in 2013.

In an interview with radio dzMM, he said that the poll body has at least P2.5 billion savings from the allotted budget in May last year.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has already given it the signal to spend at least P1.6 billion of the savings to defray costs for the ARMM polls. Congress only allotted some P400,000.

“There’s nothing to worry that there is no money for the ARMM,” Brillantes said.

The problem lies with the fact that it does not have enough time to prepare for the upcoming polls, slated on August 8.

Absent the amendatory bill, Comelec has no choice but to prepare for the ARMM polls, he added.

“These are political decisions. Until there is already a law, the preparations should continue. We don’t want hitches to happen again similar to the barangay elections,” he added.

The ARMM polls will be automated. Comelec said it has an option to buy 5,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines from supplier Smartmatic.

The cost of these machines would run up to P135 million, he said.

“We have until March 31 to exercise the option. We’re asking for more time. They have to show that the machines do not have glitches like the last time,” he said.

Otherwise, Comelec will have to open bidding again. “There is still time but it could be more expensive for us,” Brillantes said.