By Mario Casayuran | Manila Bulletin
Senators today rejected any attempt to insert into the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) a provision to allow the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to waive safeguards on the purchase of automated election equipment.
Earlier, opposition Senator Leila de Lima revealed that she was told social media had circulated last night that someone from the Senate is attempting to insert a provision in the proposed 2021 national budget to give Comelec the authority to waive the safeguards for the procurement of equipment and materials under Section 12 of the Automated Election Law as amended.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said that he received that report.
‘’ I do not know if that provision was in the Senate version which we approved. If it is there, I do not know who authored that amendment,’’ he said.
‘’In any case, I brought it to the attention of Senator (Juan Edgardo M.) Angara, chairman of our Finance Committee, advising him that if true, the provision could be unconstitutional as a rider, since it had nothing to do with the budget,’’ he pointed out.
‘’Moreover, if true, it will amend the Procurement Law, which cannot be amended by inserting that clause in the General Appropriations Act. Senator Angara committed that he will not allow the insertion of that provision,’’ he added.
Angara said his staff is checking on that report but the Senate President’s directive ‘’is clear on that matter not to allow any such attempt.’’
Senator Panfilo M. Lacson explained that General Appropriations Act (GAA) could only contain provisions that are consistent with appropriations.
Secondly, being a general law, it cannot amend a special law which is RA 8436 as amended by RA 9369, Lacson added.