FIREFIGHTERS respond on July 31 to a fire at the 7th floor of the Palacio del Gobernador building in Manila, which is occupied by the Commission on Elections’ IT department. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ RUSSELL PALMA

THE NEWLY-appointed chairman of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday said initial discussions have been undertaken for the construction of the agencys own building, and the more immediate need to transfer its information technology (IT) department after a fire broke out at its office on Sunday evening.  

“I think it is high time that Comelec gets its own building,” Chairman George Erwin M. Garcia told a virtual press briefing.  

“I also recommended to the en banc that we should study how to transfer the IT department to a more safe, secure, and protected office.”  

Comelec earlier gave assurance that election servers and data were not affected by the fire.  

He noted that Comelec also rents several warehouses nationwide for storage.  

Mr. Garcia added that he recently had a phone call with Budget Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman on the preparatory work required for the proposed building.   

“Yesterday, I received a call from her (Ms. Pangandaman) inquiring about the extent of the preparations for a new building and it looks like our request is being granted,” he said in mixed Filipino and English.  

The election agency’s office is currently located at the Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros, Manila.  

Mr. Garcia said the Comelec will have to include an allocation for a new office in its annual budget proposal.   

“I know that our budget is tight because of the pandemic, but a gradual increase in budget for the new building would be enough,” he said. John Victor D. Ordoñez