House panel OKs bills postponing barangay, SK elections in December
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives committee on suffrage and electoral reforms has approved a motion postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections originally scheduled for December, consolidating several bills on the issue.
During Tuesday’s committee hearing, Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. of Cavite’s 4th District said that the committee should first decide if the upcoming elections should be canceled or not before talking about rescheduling.
“Considering that we have already an exhaustive discussion of the issues, hearing the sponsorship speech and justification of the authors, as well as the comment coming from our Chairman of the Comelec (Commission on Elections) together with the agencies or NGOs involved in elections, I most respectfully move that number one, the elections scheduled on December 5 of this year be postponed,” Barzaga said.
“Well after we have decided as to whether or not we will postpone it, in the event that we have decided to postpone it, then I will be moving to choose the dates, considering that there are different dates as provided for in the respective bills,” he added.
Rep. France Castro of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list and Rep. Raoul Manuel of the Kabataan party-list both said they were against delaying the elections. It further caused the committee chair and Rep. Maximo Dalog Jr. of the Mountain Province party-list to split the house.
After nominal voting, 12 members of the committee were in favor of the bills postponing the elections while only Castro and Manuel were against it.
After the motion was approved, Barzaga moved to declare the next date of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to the first Monday of December 2023.
“Considering that the majority of our members have already decided to postpone the elections, I most respectfully move that the next date will be the first Monday of December of the year 2023,” he said, which was seconded by several lawmakers.
Before the committee hearing, more than 30 bills sought to put the elections on hold. Various reasons were behind these bills, such as setting aside money for the polls to COVID-19 response, not having two potentially divisive elections in a year, and giving teachers who would be on the election board time to rest and recover from the May 9 polls.
However, Manuel last July warned that suspending the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls would paralyze several programs, hindering growth amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
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