Press Release
August 2, 2019

De Lima bats for Comelec field offices separate from local gov't offices

To preserve the independence and integrity of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a measure removing the poll body's field offices from the offices of local government unit (LGU) where they are based.

De Lima filed Senate Bill No. 778 which seeks to require LGU to provide a more suitable place for the Comelec's offices aimed at eliminating the danger of a poll body "being beholden to forces that tend to unduly influence, pressure and intimidate it."

"This Act will help ensure the independence and strength of the Comelec, the twin hallmarks of its integrity," she said.

De Lima, a former election lawyer before she entered public service in 2008, also noted that in 2013, at least 39 Comelec field offices in Luzon and the Visayas suffer from poor working conditions and a shortage in basic resources.

Among this lack, if not at all absence, of basic resources includes manpower, funds, office space, supplies and equipment, and thus, preventing the Comelec from fully performing their duties in an effective and efficient manner.

"These woes suffered by the Comelec affect the discharge of their duties to the public, who may in turn be - in effect - disenfranchised," she said.

She, former chairperson of the Senate Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms in 17th Congress, attributed Section 55 of the Omnibus Election Code as one of the reasons behind the myriad woes of Comelec's field offices.

Under the said Section, De Lima explained, the provision of Comelec field offices was lodged with LGUs, leaving the poll body with no choice but to be contented with the space given to them.

If passed into law, De Lima's measure will amend the said provision, allowing Comelec to find suitable office spaces for its field offices, separate from the offices of the LGU where they are currently housed.

In addition, De Lima's measure empowers the Comelec to beef up the manpower needs of their provincial, city and municipal offices for them to fully fulfil their mandate under the law.

The Provincial Election Supervisor and City and Municipal Election Officers will be given the authority to engage contractual personnel to perform administrative or clerical works in accordance with the mandate of their office.

"In giving the Comelec the power to procure its own offices and enlist the personnel that it needs, the State effectively safeguards and holds sacred the ballots of the people, in whom all government powers reside," De Lima stressed.

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