Commission on Elections, Intramuros, Manila (Courtesy of Tutuban Fire Volunteer Association)

MANILA – Two senators pushed for an increase in the proposed 2023 budget of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to include expenses for the construction of its own building

Comelec was approved PHP500 million under the 2023 National Expenditure Program while the House of Representatives added another PHP500 million for the proposed structure.

Senator Imee Marcos, who sponsored and defended the Comelec budget of PHP6.48 billion late Monday night during the third day of the marathon plenary session on the 2023 national budget, said the poll body asked for PHP1.5 billion.

Senator Grace Poe said like other government agencies, the poll body should have its own building.

"I think it's reasonable for us to assume that really, every major government agency should have a proper place. Comelec should have a proper venue to store whatever election documents they have, to be able to operate efficiently and comfortably," Poe explained during the budget deliberations.

" So I think, maybe, in a new facility, hopefully, it will be state-of-the-art, at least, when it comes to the safety standards," Poe added.

The Comelec is renting various buildings, including several floors at the Palacio del Gobernador building in Intramuros, Manila that serves as its central office.

The Intramuros office caught fire on July 31, all the more that Chair George Garcia wants to push through with the construction of the poll body’s own building in Pasay City, which he said is a necessity rather than a luxury.

Poe said another PHP500 million for Comelec may be sourced from savings, to which Marcos agreed because the poll body still has PHP981 million left.

"We will have to see the state at the end of the year so we can use those savings, particularly for the building," Marcos said.

Marcos said Comelec's lack of own structures is an issue not only at the national level but also in regional and field offices.

Other projects that the poll body is asking for funding are the continued development and operation of its own election software and hardware systems and the full implementation of the Register Anywhere project. (PNA)