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Palace official to Comelec: Look into your savings for elections

Over concerns that the the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is lacking in funds, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that the poll body has enough savings in its budget to properly conduct next year’s elections.   “I think Comelec should look into their savings,” said Lacierda in a Palace press briefing on Wednesday. “I think they have substantial savings in their budget."   “I spoke to [Department of Budget and Management] Secretary Butch Abad especially regarding that claim that [Comelec] won’t have enough budget and Secretary Butch Abad, in fact, mentioned that they have enough savings so that should not be a problem,” Lacierda added. “Automated elections can continue.”   The proposed budget for the poll body next year is P8.3 billion. Earlier in the day, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said his agency initially asked for P24 billion and that the P8 billion budget was not enough.   Brillantes warned that with the proposed budget falling short of what Comelec asked for, the country might end up holding manual elections instead of automated elections.   Lacierda said Brillantes can raise his concerns at the budget presentation before the Congress.   “Maybe [Brillantes] can justify the need for a budget increase,” Lacierda said. “But, as far as Secretary Butch Abad is concerned, he mentioned that there are savings in Comelec that they can tap.”   In President Aquino’s 2013 budget message posted on the government’s official site on Tuesday, the Comelec will be allocated P8.3 bilion "[t]o help uphold the rights of our Bosses to choose those who will represent them in government in the upcoming synchronized elections in 2013[.]"   The message went on to say, “This amount will be used to cover the required manpower, equipment, and supplies to ensure the success of the automated elections at the national and local levels, at the barangay level, in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and for Overseas Absentee Voting." - BM, GMA News