• 2016 elections to cost P35 billion

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    THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) will be spending at least P35 billion for the national and local elections next year.

    The figure does not include the funding needed by other government agencies involved in the polls, Senator Francis Escudero said on Sunday.

    Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on finance, said at least 50 percent of the amount represents the proposed budget of the Comelec for 2016.

    This year, the Comelec has a budget of P16. 8 billion, and P12.6 billion is for the “preparatory activities” for the May 2016 polls when 18,100 positions from the presidency down to town council seats will be contested.

    “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.

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

    He added that the election budget for next year is P8 billion higher than the 2013 mid-term senatorial and local elections.

    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.

    “We’re spending more to elect 18,100 people every three years than transporting half a million people every day,“ the senator said.

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