‘Outrageous demand’: Imee Marcos rejects addt’l ₱10B funding for BSKE, cancels Comelec budget hearing

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 17) — Senator Imee Marcos said the proposed ₱10 billion additional funding for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) is an “outrageous demand,” as she postponed on Monday the Commission on Elections (Comelec) budget hearing due to insufficient documents.

Marcos said the Senate finance panel cannot deliberate on the Comelec’s 2023 budget since the commission failed to submit data that would answer the questions raised by lawmakers.

“I have not received the budget of the barangay, SK elections for October 2023. I have not received the slides regarding payment of our (poll) workers, regarding the OFW, and certain other issues that I requested. Nothing has been submitted, except the old PowerPoint that is unresponsive to the queries of most of my colleagues in the Senate,” Marcos, who chairs the Senate electoral reforms committee, told the poll body.

Comelec Chairman George Garcia said they will submit the documents by Monday afternoon.

According to the commission, ₱10 billion more is needed to hold the BSKE after it was moved from December this year to October 2023. This is on top of the current budget of over ₱8 billion.

Marcos expressed disbelief over the amount.

“Sa’n ka naman nakarinig na ‘yung barangay, SK elections na manual mas mahal pa doon sa national election para sa presidente at sa buong slate hanggang sa iba pa?” she told reporters after the canceled hearing.

[Translation: Where have you heard that manually conducted barangay and SK elections cost more than the elections for the president and the whole slate?]

“I think it's outlandish,” she added.

The senator said she believes just over ₱1 billion is needed. She noted she made the calculation after the Comelec said it eyes augmenting the numbers of voting precincts and poll watchers by 15% to accommodate the expected increase in voters.

Asked if the Senate finance committee can push through with the budget hearing this week, Marcos said they will try to, but that there is no certainty.