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Rep. Elizaldy Co, Chairman of the House committee on appropriations and co-chair of the bicameral conference committee on the 2024 General Appropriations Bill (GAB), must stop calling me names and becoming personal but must stick to the facts and the truth that P12-B was inserted by the bicameral conference committee in the 2024 Comelec’s budget for “plebiscites”, among others, related to the charter change agenda.

It is indelible that under page 618 of the 2024 General Appropriations Act, the initial P2.2-B for the “Conduct and supervision of elections, referenda, recall votes and plebiscites” was increased by P12-B under the line item “Conduct and supervision of elections, referenda, recall votes and plebiscites ---P14,229,617,000”.

The Commission on Elections, through Chairman George Garcia, did not request for the P12-B augmentation for the subject activities, including the plebiscites for charter change.

I have asked Chairman Garcia, through a mutual friend, whether he requested this huge increase, and he said no. Following is the record of the pertinent conversation:

“Magandang hapon! Chairman G (Chairman George Garcia) pinapatanong ni Cong ECL (Edcel C. Lagman) if you or the Commission requested the 12B inserted nung Bicam? Tatanungin ka na rin namam ng media re that.

Chairman Garcia: Hindi pre. Kaya lang dun sa presidents budget tinaggalan kami ng 17.4b kaya binalik lang ung tinaggal na pauli ulit naming cnasabi sa budget hearing n sana maibalik. Kaya kulang pa ng 5.4b.

Ok, thanks, Will relay this to ECL”

What Chairman Garcia requested to be restored was inadequately given back to the Comelec and what was inserted was for the subject exorbitant augmentation, which he did not request. 

Chairman Co must be man enough to admit candidly this furtive and malevolent insertion. This P12-B insertion was not in response to the Comelec’s request to restore its budget which was reduced in the submission of the National Expenditure Program (NEP). What was given to Comelec was not requested by it in the form of additional appropriation for the charter change agenda. 

How could I be sleeping on the job when the insertion was made by the bicameral conference committee of which I was not appointed as a member after years of being a conferee as former chair of the appropriations committee?