Press Release
June 25, 2015

Use P1B savings from scrapped SK polls to step up biometrics drive - Recto

If logistics is the problem behind the Commission on Elections' failure to reach out to four million voters whose biometrics have yet to be taken, then the P1 billion saved from the scrapping of the Sangguniang Kabataan elections can be used to fund the ways that will prevent their disenfranchisement.

Sen. Ralph Recto said that a special provision attached to the P16.8 billion Comelec budget for 2015 authorizes the independent body to rechannel savings for the purchase of equipment and information materials.

"So if the glitch is due to lack of equipment, then the P1 billion saved from the postponement of the SK polls can be used to acquire more," Recto said.

"If its lack of information materials or the money for an information drive is not enough, then this unused fund can also be tapped," Recto said.

The General Appropriations Act for 2015 had allocated P 937 million for the conduct of SK elections.

It also sets aside P156 million for the registration of voters in the youth polls.

But on March 25 this year, President Aquino signed into law Republic Act 10656 which moves the SK elections to the last Monday of October 2016.

"This frees up a billion pesos in the Comelec budget, and the budget language allows the Comelec to reassign this to activities which need funding," Recto said.

Recto, however, is confident that the drive to convince four million voters to have their biometrics recorded by the Comelec database could push through without fund augmentation.

"They have a P1.2 billion for "preparatory activities" for the 2016 elections. This covers voter's registration," Recto explained.

The poll body has also been given P11.43 billion to buy "assorted new equipment," including voting machines.

In its documents submitted to Congress last year, the Comelec said it was targeting a 4% increase in the number of registered voters which stood at 54,051,626 in August 2013.

The agency's P16.8 billion budget for the year is six times bigger than its 2014 budget of P2. 8 billion, Recto noted.

"We're paying an astronomical price for putting men in government. As the Comelec's budget shows, elections carry a hefty price tag. Worse, it's a recurring expense," lamented Recto.

"It's not Comelec's fault. The reasons is that we have so many government units, which create many positions up for grabs, which invite many candidates, who in turn will be chosen by a large voting base," he said.

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