Lawmakers urged to decide immediately on 2013 village, youth poll postponement

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Comelec spokesman James Jimenez. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections on Tuesday called on members of the House of Representatives to speed up their approval of the pending bills calling for the postponement of the October 2013 barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council) elections.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said discussions on the postponement law were timely since after the May 2013 congressional and local elections, the elections body would only have five months to prepare for the barangay and SK elections.

“This is probably the right time to talk about it [postponement] because when are we going to talk about it, when the May elections is finished? That would give us several months, but we will be rushing our preparations [for the October elections],” Jimenez told reporters.

“At least now, if they [congressmen] plan to postpone it, there’s still time to come up with legislation,” he added.

After the May 2013 midterm elections, Congress is not due to begin its new session in late July, or three months before the next polls.

In 2010, the Comelec also had to prepare for two elections – the national and local polls in May and the barangay and SK polls in October. Congress aborted plans to postpone the October exercise only in August and according to election watchdogs, this was one of the main reasons why Comelec was not able to fully prepare thus resulting in delayed or postponed balloting in more than 2,000 barangay.

Asked if Comelec had a position on the postponement, Jimenez said it was up to lawmakers to decide on the matter. “We’ll just watch and wait; we’ll submit a position paper if we’re requested to do so,” he added.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. in an interview said he was in favor of postponing the 2013 barangay and SK polls. He said the exercise should be held by 2014.

Some of the bills pending at the House provide for the resetting of the barangay elections to 2015.

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