by MARIO B. CASAYURAN
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is dead set in having its own building and storage area in a two-hectare (20,000 square meters) lot in Roxas Boulevard and Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) in Pasay City and finally leave its rented offices at Plaza Gobernador in Intramuros, Manila.
As the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) slashed Comelec’s proposed 2014 budget of P5 billion to P2.8 billion, the said agency would, likewise, reduce the height of the proposed new Comelec headquarters from 11 to eight stories, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. told the Senate finance committee chaired by Sen. Francis ‘’Chiz’’ Escudero.
The Escudero committee considered as approved for plenary debate Comelec’s proposed expenditure program after Brillantes and his staff explained the details of the Comelec budget, and its past and future activities.
Brillantes told Sen. Cynthia Villar, a committee member, that negotiations for the proposed Comelec lot are still going on with the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) which was some P55,000 per square meter last year “but this has gone up.’’
Because of slashes by the DBM on the proposed Comelec budget, Brillantes said Comelec’s P10 billion savings would be reduced considerably as it would use P1.1 billion from its savings for the proposed Comelec lot.
To include the new Comelec headquarters may cost a total of about P3 billion, he added.
The Comelec chief said the agency had P10 billion savings but this has been shaved down to P2 billion after deducting P2.3 billion for the scheduled Oct. 28 barangay election and other financial obligations.