Pending postponement of BSK election undermines democratic process — Namfrel
MANILA, Philippines — The plan to postpone the May 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (BSK) elections “remains inadequately justified,” poll watchdog group National Citizens Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) said on Wednesday.
Namfrel said that postponing the BSK election until May 2023 breaches the principle of having a regular election every three years.
“The regularity of elections is important to establish the mandate, legitimacy and moral authority of elected leaders,” Namfrel noted in its statement.
“Not holding elections regularly could undermine the democratic process of ensuring the citizens’ right to choose their leaders and make them accountable,” it added.
Apart from this, Namfrel said that postponing the BSK election would also “extend the terms of elected officials without a fresh mandate from the electorate” and “deprives the electorate of seeking accountability from elected officials through the ballot.”
Namfrel was reacting to the move of the House of Representatives to approve the BSK elections on the second Monday of May 2023.
Meanwhile, on the part of the Senate, postponement of BSK is already on second reading.
Namfrel also slammed the reason why the BSK elections should be postponed.
As for the reason that the government has not enough time to prepare and may result in election fatigue, Namfrel said that preparation for the BSK is “not as complex” compared to the regular elections given that it would be conducted manually.
With regards to the concern that the term of the newly elected BSK officials would be shortened, Nafrel said these officials were “fully aware” of the said scenario.
“When the sitting barangay and SK officials filed for their candidacy for the May 2018 BSKE, they were fully aware of and accepted a shortened term, itself brought on by a previous postponement of BSKE,” Namfrel said.
“NAMFREL believes that, instead of the length of term, a major determinant of success besides qualified and committed elected local officials is the existence and proper execution of concrete plans for the barangay, guided by established guidelines and implementing rules and regulations,” it added.
Further, Namfrel said that moving the date of election could only be done under the said conditions as mentioned in Section 5 of the Philippine Omnibus Election Code: any serious cause such as violence, terrorism, loss or destruction of election paraphernalia or records, force majeure, and other analogous causes of such a nature that the holding of a free, orderly and honest election should become impossible in any political subdivision
None of these conditions, according to Namfrel, exists in the reasoning of the legislators when they filed the petition to postpone the BSK.
The BSK election was originally set for October 31, 2016. The local elections were then first moved to October 23, 2017, and then to May 14, 2018, leading to village and youth council officials extending their terms. /muf
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