By Joseph B.A. Marzan
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday together with city officials broke ground for a P66.7-million building which will house several offices of the poll body.
The groundbreaking was led by Comelec chairperson George Erwin Garcia and Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas.
They were joined by Representatives Julienne Baronda (Iloilo City lone district) and James Ang (Uswag Ilonggo Party-list), Comelec Regional Election Director Dennis Ausan, and other city and election officials.
The four-storey building will house the commission’s regional office, the offices of the City Election Officer and the Provincial Election Supervisor, a multi-purpose hall for meetings, and a dormitory that will house visiting field officials from Manila and other poll offices across the country.
Its design follows the standard regional integrated field office template created by the Comelec and the Department of Public Works and Highways.
It will be located at the city government’s budding complex in Brgy. Taal in Molo district, next to the Uswag Molecular Laboratory and Dormitory and the Uswag Iloilo City Hospital.
Other buildings in its vicinity include regional offices of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, and some attached divisions of the Philippine National Police (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Explosive Ordinance Disposal and Canine Group, and Highway Patrol Group).
The new election edifice will be built by local contractor Patrila Builders and is expected to be finished on July 30, 2023.
Iloilo City Election Officer and Acting Provincial Election Supervisor Reinier Layson said that the poll body had been eyeing its own offices since 2011 under the late Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes.
Ausan likewise narrated that the plan started coming into fruition through Uswag Ilonggo Party-list Rep. James Ang, who at the time was still consulting him on requirements in creating a party-list group.
The land was provided by the city government through Resolution No. 2021-135 of the City Council and a deed of usufruct was signed by Treñas with then-commissioner Rowena Guanzon and Ausan.
Garcia said that they are also considering the transfer of the main Comelec offices to a permanent location on land the commission owns.
The transfer became more necessary after a fire broke out at the Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros, Manila where Comelec’s central office is currently located.
But Garcia remained uncertain as to when this will happen, citing the need for funding from Congress.