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Election 2025

DBM: P12 Billion Allocated by Congress For Comelec, Not Solely for Charter Change

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Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Mina Pangandaman, in a media interview held today at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay with Marichu Villanueva, said that the DBM respects and upholds the fiscal autonomy granted by the Constitution to the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).

“The Constitution grants fiscal autonomy to the COMELEC and declares that its approved annual appropriations shall be automatically and regularly released,” DBM Secretary Mina F. Pangandaman said.

The statement was made by the DBM Secretary amid concerns on how the COMELEC’s P14-billion budget in the 2024 General Appropriations Act (GAA), which includes the additional P12 billion budget allocated by Congress during last year’s bicameral conference committee, would be used to finance the proposed Charter Change or people’s initiative.

“An additional P12 billion was allocated by Congress to the COMELEC. This is lodged under the regular operations line item of the agency. It is not for the purpose of Charter Change but may be used for various activities of the COMELEC such as the preparation of national and local elections, overseas absentee voting, continuing registration, recall, special elections, referenda, and other initiatives. It is not intended specifically or solely to fund the proposed charter change,” Secretary Mina said.

“It is the bicam committee – the Senate and the House – that added the amount (P12 billion) upon the request of COMELEC. They have the discretion to use the said amount for a plebiscite if the government decides to pursue any change, or kung matutuloy ‘yung people’s initiative,” she continued.

It can be recalled that the DBM allocated a P2-billion budget for the COMELEC in the 2024 National Expenditure Program (NEP), which is P17.4 billion less than the comission’s initial proposal of P19.4 billion.

Upon the appeal made by COMELEC to restore their budget during budget hearings, the bicameral conference committee approved P14 billion— which translates to an increase of P12 billion from the initial P2 billion budget proposal of COMELEC— but is still lower than the amount originally requested by the poll body. The balance of P5.4 billion was included in the unprogrammed funds for future funding.