Press Release
July 19, 2015


Malacanang is set to recommend a P15.6-billion budget for the Commission on Election for 2016, an election year when about 18,100 positions from the presidency down to town council seats are up for grabs.

If approved by Congress, it will raise to P32.4 billion the price tag of the general elections that will be held 10 months from now, Sen. Chiz Escudero said.

Escudero, who chairs the Senate Committee on Finance, said that for this year the Comelec has a budget of P16. 8 billion, P12.6 billion of which will finance "preparatory activities" for the May 2016 general polls.

"So if you add this year's expenditures of P16.8 billion and next year's proposed budget of P15.6 billion, then you're looking at a cost of almost P35 billion for just one election alone," Escudero said.

This prompted Escudero to quip: "Kung ganun kalaki, mas mahal pa ang halalan kaysa sa subsidy natin sa MRT."

"We're spending more to elect 18,100 people every three years than transporting half a million people every day," he said.

While details of the 2016 spending have to be submitted to Congress, Escudero said he has "advance information" on the approved budget ceiling of certain agencies.

"Actually, I was informed that the Comelec asked for P20.3 billion, but this was pared down by the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) to P15.6 billion," Escudero said.

Following the budgeting practice, the two recommended amounts will be presented side-by-side in the National Expenditure Program that President Aquino will reportedly submit to Congress on the day he delivers his 6th and final State of the Nation Address on July 27.

Escudero said the conduct of elections in the country has always been a "costly proposition." "Always, they span two fiscal years. So you allocate money a year before and on the year of the elections itself," he said.

In 2012, Congress set aside P10 billion mostly for preparatory activities for the national elections slated the following year, but the Comelec spent P1 billion less than the authorized amount.

In 2013, during the mid-term polls, P8.2 billion was included in general appropriations, but actual expenditures ballooned to P15.4 billion according to the "Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing" document that the DBM released last year.

"So the total cost of the elections held in 2013 was about P24 billion," Escudero said. "And the one for 2016 appears to cost P8 billion more."

Escudero said this year's budget of the Comelec includes P11.4 billion for the acquisition of various equipment, including voting or ballot-reading machines.

It also has P1.2 billion for voters' registration, which, under a recent law, requires a voter's biometrics to be captured and stored in the Comelec database.

The Comelec is projecting some 56.2 million qualified voters for the 2016 elections, up 4 percent from the 54 million registered voters as of September last year.

Escudero said due to the spiralling cost of elections "it is perhaps time for us to seek ways on how to reduce it."

"Magkano na kaya ang gastos ng elections sa 2019? P36 billion? P40 billion? Masyadong malaki ito. Mas mabuting ilagay sa edukasyon ang pera para eleksyon," he said.

"Grabe ang inflationary spike ng eleksyon. At ang tinutuloy ko pa lang ay ang gastusin ng Comelec. Hindi pa kasama ang pangkalahatang gastos, yung ginugugol ng ibang ahensya ng gobyero, yung gastos ng mga kandidato, " Escudero said.

"Siguro after the dust has settled magkaroon ng non-partisan review at malalim na introspection kung kailangan ba na ganito talaga ang gastos o meron pang ibang mura pero epektibong paraan," Escudero said.

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