MANILA – Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Sixto Brillanes on Tuesday brushed off a no-election scenario in the 2016, saying the Commission has allotted Php 10.3 billion budget for the country’s third automated national elections.
”No way that there can be no-el. Whatever happens, there will be (election),” Brillantes told media after the Senate finance committee deliberations on the Comelec’s proposed Php 16.9 billion budget for 2015.
It was Senator Nancy Binay who asked Brillantes if there will be a chance for no-election scenario in 2016.
”That cannot be done. That’s constitutional (issue). If there is no election in 2016, there will also be no holdover, so we will have a big problem. Holdover is not also allowed,” Brillantes said.
”So no-election is impossible,” Binay, whose father Vice President Jejomar Binay will run for president in 2016, asked again.
”That is impossible,” Brillantes, an election lawyer priority to his appointment, replied.
Brillantes also explained that even the term extension will require Charter change and not just a creation of law.
”I doubt whether you (Congress) can pass a law extending the term of office. That’s also require constitutional amendment,” Brillantes explained.
The term extension and no-election issue cropped up during the hearing after finance committee chairman Sen. Francis Escudero noted the removal of the proposed Php 7.1 billion budget for Charter change from the Php P2.606 trillion new expenditure program (NEP) for 2016.
”Since there is no allocation for Charter change or referendum, there is no referendum for Charter change next year?,” Escudero asked.
”It depends. The problem is plebiscite because Charter change can be, if we convert Congress into constituent assembly, we have no problem but if we create a constitutional commission, there will be an election. We have no budget for Charter change,” Brillantes said.
Brillantes also said the Comelec did not also proposed Con-con “because if we hold it in 2015, there will be conflict for 2016 elections.”
Aside from budget for Charter change, the DBM also removed the Comelec’s proposed Php 679.1 million for Bangsamoro plebiscite; Php 321.5 million for recall elections; Php 231.5 million for resumption of continuing registration; and, Php 89 million for resumption of the overseas voters registration.
Brillantes said Php 10.3 billion of the Comelec’s Php 16.94 NEP for 2015 will be spent for the purchase of 41,000 additional optical mark reading (OMR) machines for 2016 automated elections.
He said the Comelec will be using the old 81,000 OMR or precinct counting optical scan (PCOS) machines which have been used in the country’s first two computerized elections in 2010 and 2013.
”So will be using a total of 121,000 machines in 2016 for over 600 clusters,” Brillantes told the panel.
Aside from 2016 national and local elections preparation, the Comelec’s other locally-funded projects include Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) registration and SK elections which will have Php 1.1 billion budget; and, information system development with Php 353.7 million allotment.
Binay moved for the submission of the Comelec’s proposed Php 16.94 billion to the Senate plenary.