Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said on Friday that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will need at least P2 billion to hold a two-day election in 2022.
In a statement, Recto said an “extra day” for the May, 2022, local and national polls will entail an additional cost of P2 billion to P2.5 billion, computing alone the honorarium to be given to teachers who will be on election duty.
“If we simply double the 2019 honorarium rates of the three members of the Board of Election Inspectors or BEI, then that would be the cost,” Recto said.
His estimate was twice the Comelec’s projection on its budgetary requirement to carry out the plan.
During the Senate’s hearing Thursday on the poll body’s P14.56-billion proposed 2021 budget, Comelec Chair Sheriff Abas announced that they are mulling to hold a two- or three-day voting to prevent overcrowding in polling precincts, especially if the threat of COVID-19 is still persisting.
Abas said the Comelec usually sets aside at least P1 billion to pay for teachers as well as police and military personnel who will be deployed on election day.
“Magdo-doble po kami ng bayad sa mga teachers and so on…Kung mag-two or three days po tayo malamang twice or thrice ang madadagdag sa amin plus syempre ‘yong iba pang gastos na pwedeng madagdag (We will have to double our pay-outs to the teachers and so on. If we will hold the elections for two or three days, then our budget will have to be twice or thrice than what we are receiving, and, of course, the other expenses that might incur),” he told senators.
In his estimate, however, Recto said that during the 2019 elections, the BEIs in each precinct were paid P19,000, P6,000 for the BEI chairperson, and P5,000 each for the poll clerk and the third member. They were also supposedly given a travel allowance of P1,000.
“If you have to roll over the P19,000 per precinct and multiply this by 110,000 [precincts], aabot ng mga (it will reach) P2.1 billion,” Recto said.
He added that teachers account for only half of the personnel the Department of Education deployed during elections.
“Yung teachers sa BEI in 2019 mga 258,000 lang. Pero ang total deployment ng DepEd ay about 531,000. Ito ang binayaran ng Comelec for their support and supervisory work, which ranged from P2,000 to P4,000,” Recto said, citing data from the Comelec.
“Hindi pa kasama ang mga pulis dito (This does not include the police yet). If you deploy an average of one per clustered precinct, then you will be mobilizing half of the country’s police force, which on paper is 194,988,” he added.
Recto had asked Comelec to draw up contingency plans in the event that the coronavirus infection will still exist by 2022.
“Even if it will be held on the tail end of the pandemic, we have to make sure that voting will not be hazardous to the voter’s health,” Recto said.
“Just the same, let us be prepared. Let us also plan in advance, make studies on how, for example, mail voting can be exercised by the disabled, elderly, and the sick. Hindi para sa susunod na election pero baka (Not only for the upcoming elections but maybe) two or three cycles in the future,” he said.