By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and Peoples’ Participation has approved the bill that seeks to strengthen the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
The panel, chaired by Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, recommended the passage of the Senate Bill 2025, which aims to uphold the independence of the Comelec by granting it the authority to procure its offices and personnel. It is authored by Sen. Leila de Lima.
The measure is expected to be tackled in plenary when sessions resumes next year.
The bill would amend the Omnibus Election Election Code, particularly its Section 55, which assigned the provision of Comelec offices to the local government units (LGUs).
De Lima had said that the poll body’s independence “weakened” when Section 55 of the Omnibus Election Code took effect.
Under SB No. 2025, the government would be mandated to provide suitable office space for its field offices separate from the offices of the LGUs.
The measure also grants provincial, city and municipal Comelec offices the “sole authority” to employ personnel in accordance with civil service laws.
It would also automatically create positions of election officers whenever new cities, municipalities and electoral districts are created.
De Lima had also proposed that there should be one election assistant for every 20,000 registered voters.
Its counterpart House Bill 7701, by CIBAC party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna, is awaiting approval in the committee level.