A congressman from Mindanao on Friday urged the Commission on Elections not to hold office in buildings owned by local governments.
Rep. Frederick Siao of Iligan City, member for the majority bloc of the House committee on electoral reforms, said that in many cities, towns and provincial capitals, Comelec offices were “essentially informal settlers or squatters” in local government building, putting the poll body’s independence in the local level under a cloud.
Exacerbating the problem is the fact that private lands and buildings in the provinces are either owned or run by the political families, Siao said.
“Whatever available lands that are government-owned would most likely be those occupied by state universities and colleges, government hospitals and military of police camps,” Siao said.
“We have spent much time, money, and effort to modernize, automate, and computerize or elections, but we, as a people, have neglected the Comelec itself. Chairmen and commissioners come and go, but the ones who stay and keep the system running—however ancient they may be—are the field officials, rank and file personnel, and the casuals and contractual,” he said.
Siao’s proposal is embodied in House Bill 8158 for the appropriation of funds and a three-year transition period so that the Comelec provincial offices can move out of the local government-owned facilities they are at and transfer to their new and own offices.
HB 8158 seeks to amend Section 55 of Batas Pambansa 881.
Funding will come from annual appropriations, the bill provides.