Press Release
December 10, 2006

2007 budget will not fund unlawful plebiscite, says Drilon

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Franklin Drilon today announced that nowhere in the Senate-approved P9.167 billion budget of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for 2007 will be spent to fund a plebiscite, which the House of Representatives is pressing for next year in order to effect changes in the Constitution.

"Why should we fund an electoral exercise which in the view of the Senate finance committee is patently unlawful and contrary to the Constitution?" Drilon said.

In the Senate-approved budget of the Comelec, P5.128 billion is appropriated for the holding of the national and local elections. P2.130 billion is appropriated for the holding of Barangay and SK elections.

"Even if the House of Representatives succeeded to force the changes they want in the 1987 Constitution and postponed the elections from May 2007 to November 2007, as indicated in their Simplified Proposals for Amendments, there will be no spending for an illegal plebiscite," Drilon said.

In the course of the Senate plenary deliberation on the Comelec budget, Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos agreed that their budget under the President's proposal of P9.717 billion can be reduced by P550 million as it is overstated, Drilon noted.

Initially, the finance committee recommended a reduction of P750 million in the Comelec. This was prompted by a comparison of the appropriation for national and local elections for 2007 and the spending for the same exercise in 2004 and it appeared that the proposed budget for national and local elections for 2007 is bloated by P750 million.

"But Chairman Abalos has requested for a reconsideration of the P750 million cut to about P550 million," Drilon said.

Earlier, Drilon condemned as fruits of a poisoned tree any amendments coming from an illegal, unlawful and unconstitutionally convened Constituent Assembly.

"We should wait until the House brings the matter to the Comelec and asks the Comelec to set the date for the plebiscite. We expect the Comelec to ride the Cha-cha train. At that point when they bring it to the Comelec, we go to the Supreme Court and ask the high court to prevent the Comelec from setting the date of the plebiscite because what the House did and what they will do afterwards would be patently illegal, not allowed under our Constitution," Drilon said.

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