P40 million needed for MP special elections

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BONTOC, Mountain Province – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will need at least P40 million for a special election for the province’s congressional post once declared vacant by the leadership of the House of Representatives following the untimely demise of the late Rep. Maximo Dalog, Sr. who succumbed to alleged kidney ailment in a Quezon City-based hospital last month.

Provincial Election Supervisor Ricardo Lampac pointed out the said amount will cover the allowances of Comelec officials and personnel and members of the Board of Election Inspectors in the precinct level and the Board of Canvassers, transportation, allowances of the police and military, election supplies and paraphernalia among others.

He pointed out once the House of Representatives certifies that the congressional seat of Mountain Province is vacant, the Comelec will submit to the House the list of expenses for the mandatory special elections for the same to download to the poll body the required budget for the preparations and eventual conduct of the special elections.

“While it is true that Rep. Dalog unfortunately succumbed to his lingering ailment, we have to wait for the declaration of the province’s congressional seat as vacant by the House before we will make any action. We cannot unilaterally move or act on our own without the declaration of the position vacant that is why we are in a wait-and-see situation at this time,” Lampac stressed.

The Comelec provincial official underscored the 90-day period from which to conduct the special elections will only be counted once the House will certify that the province’s congressional seat is declared vacant but up to the present, the poll body has not yet been provided a copy of the required certificate of vacancy.

According to him, there was a precedent in the case of the province’s congressional post in the case of the late Rep. Victor S. Dominguez who succumbed to cardiac arrest in February 2008 where the House did not declare the position vacant because it appointed former Kalinga Rep. Manuel S. Agyao as the caretaker Congress representative.

Lampac revealed for the unexpired term of the late Rep. Dominguez, Agyao served as the province’s caretaker Congress representative and the House never declared the position vacant until the May 2010 synchronized national elections.

He asserted once there will be a special elections for the province’s congressional seat is declared vacant by the House, the winning candidate will serve Dalog’s unexpired term and will be counted as one term for the elected official.

At present, Lampac claimed the poll body is not in a position to make a definite stand on the matter because the House of Representatives has not yet decided whether or not to declare the congressional seat vacant as it is the branch of government that can  declare the position vacant.

When the same scenario in the province occurred in 2008, Lampac said the expenses that should have been spent during the conduct of the special elections was only P15 million but the special elections was not done because the House did not certify the congressional seat vacant.

By HENT

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