MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is turning over P4.14 billion to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to support preparations for the midterm elections in May this year.
The release was charged against savings from unutilized appropriations under the 2012 General Appropriations Act, the DBM said.
The May elections will be for legislative and local officials, including positions in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
“We augmented the Comelec’s budget to enable them to make the necessary preparations for this year’s elections. The additional fund support will ensure that pre-election activities are accomplished according to schedule and with the utmost efficiency,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said yesterday.
Of the total amount, P1.54 billion is earmarked for expenses for the election proper and P755.08 million for support activities related to the purchase of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines as well as to the development of software support and maintenance, and training and seminar activities.
About P100.9 million has also been set aside for overseas absentee voting requirements.
Abad pointed out that the P4.14 billion will be used only for activities related to the 2013 elections and that all unused funds will not be available for obligation at the end of the year.
Also as part of the May preparations, the Comelec has started reassigning key officials to other posts or areas to prevent them from being influenced by candidates.
But according to Commissioner Lucenito Tagle, the reshuffle is only “temporary” and only during the election season.
“They may be familiar with the candidates in their areas of assignment so we are doing this reshuffle. We don’t want them to be influenced by candidates,” he said.
In a resolution, the poll body said the reshuffle is “geared towards advancing the professional competency, integrity and absolute impartiality of its personnel, in particular, its senior staff.”
“All senior staff (directors III and IV) play pivotal roles and responsibilities not only in the holding of the forthcoming elections but also in discharging the mandates of the Comelec,” the resolution stated.
The reshuffle took effect yesterday until June 12 or the end of the election period “without prejudice to the authority of the Commission en banc to effect further reassignments whenever the exigency of service so requires.”
Tagle added that next to be moved are the regional directors, provincial election supervisors and election officers.
Those reshuffled in the main office include executive director Jose Tolentino, who was appointed as head of the Project Management Office.
His replacement is Bartolome Sinocruz Jr., who used to be the deputy executive director for operations.
Deputy executive director for administration Helen Aguila-Flores has switched positions with personnel department director Adolfo Ibanez, while Sinocruz was replaced by election and barangay affairs department director Teopisto Elnas.
Administrative service department director Rey Doma has been named assistant regional director in Cagayan Valley region, replacing Jerbee Cortez who has been appointed assistant regional director in the National Capital Region. With Sheila Crisostomo