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After fire incident, Comelec requests funding for new building

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
After fire incident, Comelec requests funding for new building
Firefighters respond to a fire at the Palacio del Gobernador building, which houses the Commission on Elections office, in Intramuros, Manila on July 31 evening.
The STAR / Russell Palma

MANILA, Philippines — Following the fire incident over the weekend, newly appointed chairman of the Commission on Elections George Garcia said it might be a “high time” for the poll body to get funding to build its own office. 

The Comelec Main Office is currently based in Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros, which is also home to the Intramuros Administration and the Home Development Mutual Fund Office. The fire affected the reception area of the Comelec Main Office at the 7th floor at 6:48 p.m. on Sunday.

Garcia is now asking lawmakers to grant the poll body a budget to construct its own central building on its three-hectare property along Macapagal avenue in Pasay City. He said the poll body currently pays around P70 million to P75 million worth of rental fees for all of its leased properties.

“Hindi justification ‘yung sunog at kailangan naming alamin bakit nangyari ‘yun, but then, at least pagkakataon din namin na maipahayag ‘yung aming saloobin,” Garcia said.

(The fire is not a justification and we really need to conduct a thorough investigation on that, but then, at least this is also our chance to air concerns.)

With their own building, Garcia said they would have the space to properly store and secure election paraphernalia.

Since its funding remains tight because of the pandemic, the new chairman said it will be okay if they start the construction slowly.

Garcia said he already received a call from Department of Budget and Management Secretary Amenah Pangandaman after the fire incident to ask Comelec about the specifics of its request for its own building. 

While Comelec Spokesman John Rex Laudiangco previously said that no Comelec office or department incurred fire damage and data from the elections remain intact, Garcia said it might be better to house the poll body’s Information and Technology Department elsewhere as a precautionary measure.

“Hiniling ko sa en banc kanina bilang isang recommendation, sabi ko, maganda siguro pag-aralan na natin na ilipat ‘yung opisina ng [ITD], just like a command center sa isang area dito sa Intramuros na safe, secure, and of course, ‘yung protected kasi IT system po ‘yan e,” Garcia said.

(I asked the en banc earlier as one of my recommendations, I told them it would probably be a good idea to study transferring the ITD office somewhere else, like a command center in another area here in Intramuros where it is safe, secure, and of course, protected because that is an IT system.)

COMELEC

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS

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