No budget for Cha-Cha plebiscite in 2018, says Escudero
MANILA, Philippines – Amid the ongoing congressional hearings on charter change (Cha-Cha), Senator Francis Escudero said there is no budget allotted to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for any plebiscite this year.
In a chance interview with reporters on Thursday, February 1, Escudero added that a plebiscite, possibly for Cha-Cha, can happen if Congress would pass a supplemental budget for it.
"Wala naman akong alam na plebesito dahil wala silang budget para sa anumang plebesito sa taong 2018," said Escudero. "Pero may savings sila. Buti na rin 'yun."
(I don't know of any plebiscite because they don't have a budget for any plebiscite in 2018. But they have savings; it's good they have it.)
Asked whether there are preparations for one, he said in Filipino, "There is none because there's no budget for it, unless Congress passes a supplemental budget."
Malacañang can also request a supplemental budget from Congress.
"Sa ngayon wala akong nakikitang posibilidad. Ano mang ingay o palitan ng pananaw sa media ngayon sa iba’t ibang opisyal wala namang budget ang Comelec para diyan sa taong ito," he reiterated.
(Right now, I don't see any possibility. Whatever noise or views you hear in the media from some officials, the Comelec doesn't have a budget for it this year.)
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez once floated the idea of holding a plebiscite on the ratification of amendments or revisions to the 1987 Constitution in May 2018. Alvarez has since changed his mind, saying he is open to conducting it in May 2019 instead.
A plebiscite could also be held in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) once the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is passed. (READ: House vows to pass BBL by March 2018)
The BBL aims to create a Bangsamoro entity, replacing the ARMM. – Michael Bueza/Rappler.com