THE government is set to spend almost P13 billion for two elections scheduled for next year, but employees of the Commission on Elections complained there is no funding for the very people who are expected to conduct honest and credible elections.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad told congressmen during a budget hearing on Monday the proposed P3.002-trillion national budget includes an allotment of P12.954 billion for automated elections on May 9, 2016 and synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on Oct. 31, 2016.
Abad said the allocation includes P6.26 billion for the national and local elections and P6.69 billion for the Sanggunian Kabataan and barangay elections.
Abad said the P6.26 billion will only be for the holding of the NLE, since P12.6 billion had already been allotted this year for the acquisition of additional voting machines and P1.2 billion for other expenses in preparation for the polls.
Of the P6.69 billion budget for the Sk and barangat elections, P507 million will be used for the SK registration, P5.9 billion for the holding of elections and P193 million for the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV).
This amount will be augmented by the P936 million allotment this year for the SK polls and P10 million for the OAV.
But Comelec employees slammed the decision not to include the P32.4-billion salary increase of poll employees in its gargantuan budget for the 2016 national and local elections.
“It is very disheartening that nowhere in the gargantuan election budget can you find allocations intended for the increase in the salary of the workers who will hold the fort in 2016. Billions were allocated for machines, but why is there no fund for the employees?,” the Comelec union said in a statement.
The union said Senator Francis Escudero has previously announced that Malacañang will recommend a P15.6 billion budget for Comelec, on top of the P16.8-billion already allotted to Comelec for this year.
On December 16, 2014, the Comelec en banc issued a minute resolution No. 14-0869 approving the reclassification or upgrading of rank of 1,014 qualified provincial election supervisors (PESs), Election officers (EOs), and Election Assistants (Eas).
The resolution is in pursuant to a guideline issued by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) dated January 1, 1992 and based on the number of registered in a Province, City and municipality.
“The reclassification and upgrading of 1, 014 qualified PES, EO and EA positions, we firmly believe, will tremendously boost the morale of our field officials and employees, the very backbone of the entire COMELEC workforce, ahead of the 2016 National and Local Elections,” the COMELEC-EU said.
The resolution likewise recommended that the reclassification or upgrading of positions be made effective starting fiscal year 2015 and the cost for the same be sourced from the Comelec’s savings and that for the succeeding years thereafter.