House panel OKs postponement of 2020 barangay, SK polls
MANILA, Philippines — The House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms approved Tuesday bills postponing the 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to the second Monday of May 2023.
Committee chair and Negros Occidental 4th District Rep. Juliet Ferrer said the panel would prepare a substitute bill that would then be tackled at the plenary. Under the proposal, the next local elections would happen every three years after the 2023 polls.
Some 37 bills were filed to postpone the local elections anew. Of these, Ferrer said 26 bills proposed to move the election to 2022, five to 2021, five to 2023, and one to any date that may be set by Congress.
The Liga ng mga Barangay (LNB) and National Youth Commission represented by chairs James Lim and Ryan Enriquez, respectively, backed the proposal to cancel the local elections for the third time under the Duterte administration.
At the hearing, Commission on Elections Commissioner Antonio Kho urged House members to swiftly decide on the postponement of the local polls to prevent wastage of funds. He cited that the Senate counterpart measure is already being deliberated by their plenary.
Isabela 6th District Rep. Faustino Dy V, one of the authors, said the proposed law was “consistent” with the call of LNB “to be granted a fixed term that will give them enough time to implement and promote long-term programs and advocacies without interruption and political interference.”
Members of the Makabayan bloc, Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Zarate and Ferdinand Gaite, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago, opposed the postponement of the elections.
“This is a bad precedent… Nagiging hawak ngayon ng mga pulitiko ang mga barangay officials kasi nakasalalay sa kanila kung maeextend kaya ang term [Politicians seem to control barangay officials more since the extension of their terms would depend on lawmakers],” Zarate said.
On Monday, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the House would push for around P10-billion worth of changes in the proposed P4.1 trillion 2020 national budget, which would remove funding for the barangay elections in 2020 and some right-of-way claims of the government, among others.
He expressed confidence that the 2020 local polls would be postponed.
Originally set for October 31, 2016, the local elections were first moved to October 23, 2017, and then to May 14, 2018. /jpv
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