MANILA - Preparations for the December barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) are at 70 percent, Commission on Elections chairman George Garcia said Monday.
The preparations continue amid calls to postpone the polls. A law for the postponement has yet to be passed though. Last week, a House panel voted to postpone the Dec. 5 elections for a year.
Speaking to reporters after the Comelec flag raising ceremony, Garcia said printing of ballots and other election related documents may be completed in September, while transporting or shipping of materials may be done in October.
“Kinikilala natin at nirerespeto natin ang kapangyarihan ng ating Kongreso na i-postpone ang election at i-reset siya sa ibang panahon. Pero sa amin sa Comelec, whether ma-reset o hindi, matuloy ang December 5 o hindi, tuloy-tuloy ang paghahanda po namin," Garcia said.
(We recognize and respect Congress' power to postpone an election and reset it. But on our part, whether or not it pushes through on December 5, our preparations continue.)
"Kaya lang, siyempre, sabi nga namin, 'pag ni-reset, may kaunting karagdagan po tayong gagastusin,” he added.
(But like we've said before, if it is reset, that will incur additional expenses.)
Meanwhile, the Aug. 20 plebiscite to ratify the creation of Barangay New Canaan into a regular and distinct barangay in the municipality of Alabel in the province of Saranggani has been a success with no untoward incident, Garcia said.
The poll body is also set to conduct on Sept. 3 the plebiscite to ratify the conversion of the municipality of Calaca into a component city of the province of Batangas.
Newly-designated Comelec Commissioner Nelson Celis attended Monday’s flag ceremony.
Celis told reporters he is not new to the poll body, having attended election-related hearings as part of the civil society and having served as consultant to former Commissioner Resurreccion Borra.
“Mula noon, hindi na ako nakaalis sa (Since then, I haven't stopped participating in) Commission on Election activities, from 1999 to today,” he said.
As he is not a lawyer, Celis said he is ready to seek the help of lawyers in handling electoral cases. Celis pointed out former Commissioner Luzviminda Tancangco was also a non-lawyer when she served in the poll body.
Garcia said Celis received his appointment papers during the day.
The two are now awaiting their schedule to appear before the Commission on Appointments.
In remarks after the flag ceremony, Garcia urged Comelec employees to set aside personal interest in the service of the public to fulfill the constitutional body’s mandate.
“Dito sa Komisyon, uso ang ganoon, imbes na same direction, kapag na-Marites na, tapos nasulsulan pa,” Garcia said in jest.
“Bilang institusyon, kailangan iwasan natin ang ganoon."
(In the Commission, gossiping is a thing. As an institution, we need to avoid that.)
“Kung mayroon tayong ipagmamalaki bilang isang institusyon, ang Comelec ay isang constitutional body‚ tayo ay (nilikha) mismo ng Saligang Batas, at tayo binigyan mismo ng kapangyarihan ng mamamayang Pilipino."
"So nandoon ang tungkulin sa ating mga balikat na sa ating bawat kilos, dapat natin isipin, 'Para sa bayan 'yan, para sa bansa 'yan'. Set aside muna ang lahat ng personal o pang sariling kapakanan," he said.
(If there's one thing we can be proud of as an institution, it's that we are a constitutional body and power has been vested in us by the Filipino people. So we have a responsibility that everything we do is for the country. Let us set aside our personal and selfish interests.)
Garcia also led the unveiling of a scale model of the proposed Comelec building that is intended to house the agency's offices and warehouses under one roof.
He said the Department of Budget and Management has allotted P500 million as initial funding for the project, and he hopes to have Congress approval for this so construction can start.
The building will occupy more than one hectare of the Comelec’s almost three-hectare lot in the Central Business Park along Macapagal Avenue in Pasay City.
“Hopefully po, sana madagdagan pa ang kalahating bilyon… sa pagsisimula ng ating building,” Garcia said.
(Hopefully, we can have another half a billion pesos... as we start the construction of our building.)
“Ang importante po, makapagsimula kami. Matatapos po ito ng apat hanggang limang taon. May awa ang Diyos, sana matapos po natin. Sana po matulungan po tayo ng ating Kongreso para maisakatuparan ang pangarap natin na magkaroon ng sarili nating building.”
(The important thing is that we start on this project. It can be completed in 4-5 years. By God's grace, we hope to finish it. We hope Congress can help us fulfill our dream of having our own building.)