The Philippine Star - Senate to delete GAB provision on Comelec procurement safeguards

1 December 2020

By Paolo Romero | The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Senators vowed to block any attempt to allow the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to relax its procurement safeguards as mandated by the Automated Election Law that may affect the credibility of the 2022 polls.

There were reports of an alleged attempt to insert a provision in the proposed 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) being finalized by both the Senate and the House of Representatives that seeks to do away with the safety measures in Republic Act 8436 and RA 9369 in the conduct of automated elections.

Senators over the weekend were verifying the reports of the supposed insertion in the GAB even as they posted on Twitter their opposition to such attempts.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he was already looking into the matter and has instructed Sen. Sonny Angara, chair of the Senate finance committee handling the GAB, to block any such move.

“Easy to shoot down the proposal: provisions of a general law cannot amend the provision of a special law. RA 8436 as amended by 9369 is a special law while GAA is a general law,” Sotto said on Twitter on Sunday night, referring to the General Appropriations Act.

The Senate and the House would convene the bicameral conference committee this week to reconcile conflicting provisions of their respective versions of the GAB before ratifying a final version of the 2021 spending bill.

Angara said Sotto instructed him to look for such provision before Congress ratifies the proposed budget.

He said Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also warned him about such attempts.

There is still no word as of yesterday on who introduced the provision that was inserted into the GAB.

Drilon said he received the same reports but admitted he does not know who authored such an amendment.

He said he told Angara that if the reports were true, the provision could be unconstitutional as a rider, since it had nothing to do with the budget.

“Moreover, if true, it will amend the Procurement Law, which cannot be amended by inserting that clause in the General Appropriations Act,” Drilon told reporters. – Cecille Suerte Felipe