By Filane Mikee Cervantes

House of Representatives (PNA file photo by Joan Bondoc)

MANILA – House appropriations committee chair Elizaldy Co on Tuesday denied allegations that the additional PHP12-billion budget of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) under the 2024 budget would be used to fund the push for Charter change.

Co said the increase was made upon the request of the poll body to restore the budget cuts made by the Department of Budget and Management in the 2024 National Expenditure Program (NEP).

In the 2024 NEP, the DBM allocated Comelec a PHP2-billion budget, or PHP17.4 billion less than the poll body’s initial proposal of PHP19.4 billion.

Co said the bicameral conference committee approved PHP14 billion, not the entire PHP19.4 billion originally requested by Comelec.

Co said the balance of PHP5.4 billion was included in the unprogrammed funds for future funding.

“Comelec Chairman George Garcia personally appealed during the budget hearing in Congress to restore their budget. Congressman [Joseph Stephen] Paduano (of Abang Lingkod Party-list), who presided over that meeting, attests that such request was approved by the committee and reflected in the minutes,” Co, of Ako Bicol Party-list, said in a statement.

Co was responding to the claim of Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman that the PHP14 billion allocation will be used to fund the Charter change initiative.

Lagman said the PHP12 billion was inserted by the bicameral conference committee in the 2024 Comelec budget for plebiscites, among others.

Co dared Lagman to prove how Comelec’s PHP14-billion would be used to push or finance proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution. (PNA)