Press Release
August 31, 2012

Drilon: Comelec purchase of P1.19-B land without Congress approval culpable violation of Constitution

Senator Franklin M. Drilon warned the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that their purchase of a P1.19 billion property without the approval of Congress is a culpable violation of the Constitution and can lead to prosecution for technical malversation of funds.

"There appears to be a gross violation of the Constitution on the part of the Comelec when they decided to use their P3.5 billion savings to purchase a piece of land worth P1,188,865,295.82," said Drilon.

He added the Comelec admitted having entered a contract with the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) to purchase that P1.19 billion property, and of the amount, P250 million has already been advanced to the PRA.

Drilon said the agency cannot invoke its so-called fiscal autonomy as a constitutional body and use its savings to purchase land and building without securing any approval of Congress who gives authorization for the government to spend money.

Drilon said the "Comelec's position is totally wrong."

Under the Constitution, the Comelec may, by law, be authorized to augment any item or in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for the respective offices from savings in other items of the respective appropriations, noted Drilon.

He stressed the appropriations act clearly states that the Comelec can only use its savings to augment funding for projects that exist in the GAA or which the Congress has previously authorized, but the poll body cannot use its savings to fund and to create new projects such as the purchase of land and building without any authorization from Congress.

"What the Comelec did is that without any appropriation for a main building and field office in the 2012 General Appropriations Act, they re-aligned their savings to buy land and building, but this purchase is not authorized in the budget," explained Drilon.

"There is no authority of whatsoever under the 2012 General Appropriations Act for Comelec to purchase land for a building. That is the role of Congress, the role of Congress is to appropriate to specific items," he added.

"In other words, they became Congress by themselves. Labag po sa Saligang Batas na ilagay mo sa item na hindi existing, so iyan po ang nilabag ng Comelec," ended Drilon.

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