MANILA - Commission on Elections chairman George Erwin Garcia led his first flag raising at the Comelec session hall as chairman, the first of the agency since the pandemic began.
In his remarks, Garcia called on Comelec personnel to give their all in preparing for the December 5 barangay and SK elections in the absence of a law that will postpone the polls.
“Sana’y ibigay din natin nang buong lakas, kalooban at pag-iisip at sipag sa paghahanda na ito,” Garcia said in his remarks.
Garcia also requested for support from Comelec to support his planned implementation of structural reforms to ensure good governance in the agency.
Comelec personnel applauded his push for the construction of a building that will house Comelec offices and warehouses in a single structure to help government save on paying rent.
Speaking to reporters, Garcia said he is in favor of proceeding with the barangay and SK polls but said the Comelec is ready to abide by the decision of Congress whether to postpone it.
He said no money will be wasted if elections are postponed since items procured can still be used in the future.
“Sisiguraduhin po namin na ang mga bibilhin naming kagamitan ay gagamitin pa rin namin kahit ma-reset ang election halimbawa sa susunod na taon. Hindi rin po masasayang ang lahat ng gagamitin namin,” Garcia said.
“Ako ay always pro-conduct of election. So kung kami ang tatanungin, ang Commission on Elections, kung ang sasabihin ng Kongreso handa ba kayo, sagot namin handang-handa kami. Handa ba kayo ma-reset? Handang handa rin po kami. So either way, ituloy o hindi, basta sa Commission on Elections, handa po kami. That is our constitutional duty.”
Quoting Comelec Finance Services Department director Atty. Martin B. Niedo, Comelec Law Department director and acting spokesperson Atty. John Rex Laudiangco said the budget for the 2022 barangay and SK elections worth P8.4 billion consisting of allotments and the corresponding cash allocations “remains unspent except for the very minimal amount” for supplies under Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (P225,360.00) and obligated for the National Conference-Workshop activity P500,000.00.
The Comelec, Laudiangco added, is implementing “three-pronged” election preparations that includes Voter’s Registration which ended on July 23 with the Election Registration Board hearings being conducted simultaneously nationwide on August 1 except for the earthquake hit areas where an extension was granted until August 15; the conduct of national conferences and workshop activities, drafting and promulgation of implementing resolutions, which may be re-issued or re-promulgated in the event of postponement of the elections; and the procurement of ballot paper, official ballots, printing services for the ballots, accountable and non-accountable forms and other election supplies.
“Any procurement of goods will not be of waste should the proposed postponement/resetting be approved into law, as the same may be utilized in the new date of BSKE. This is similar to what the Commission had authorized for the May 14, 2018 BSKE wherein we used ballots and accountable forms which were all dated October 23, 2017,” Laudiangco said in a statement.
“None of the procured goods, including indelible inks, pens and ballot and others were wasted and all were accordingly put to its intended use.”
Comelec Commissioner Aimee Ferolino said preparations are also continuing for the conduct of a number of plebiscites, including one on the proposal to divide the province of Maguindanao, even as the poll body prepares for the barangay and SK elections.
“Hindi naman mahirap gagawin iyong plebisito since in the plebiscite that we conducted in Palawan, nagawa nga namin na nasa kasagsagan pa tayo ng pandemic. It’s a lot easier now because many people are already vaccinated and hindi na ganoon kalaki ang threat ng COVID compared sa before,” Ferolino told reporters.
Laudiangco said the budget and fundings for the plebiscites are sourced from the local government unit involved and “merely transferred/transmitted to Comelec, as provided in their respective enabling laws.”
Meanwhile, the issuance of voter’s certification at the Comelec main office resumed Monday.
In an advisory, Laudiangco said the voter’s certification may be availed of by the public at the Comelec National Central File Division (NCFD) at FEMII Bldg. Extension, Cabildo St. cor. A. Soriano Ave., Intramuros, Manila.
The said frontline service of Comelec was suspended last week due to the fire that affected Information Technology department of the poll body.