House asked not to reschedule barangay polls for 2024 due to midterm polls | Inquirer News

House asked not to reschedule barangay polls for 2024 due to midterm polls

/ 03:36 PM August 16, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — If Congress decides to move the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has asked that it not be done after 2023, when the midterm elections will already be in progress.

During the House of Representatives committee on suffrage and electoral reforms’ hearing on Tuesday, Comelec Chairperson George Garcia said that they are leaving to Congress the decision whether the said polls should be postponed or rescheduled.

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Regardless of when it happens, as long as it isn’t in 2024, they won’t mind. They’d be gearing up for the 2025 elections then.

“As far as the Commission on Elections is concerned, we recognize that the power to postpone the elections or even to extend the term of office of barangay and SK officials rest solely to the absolute prerogative of Congress, under the Constitution under Article 10 Section 8,” Garcia told lawmakers.

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“We recognize that, and therefore as far as the issue is concerned, it is a political question, kami po sa (we in the) Commission on Elections will just abide by the mandate of Congress and the Executive as far as postponing the election is concerned, and whether it be May of 2023, December of 2023, ‘wag naman pong (please don’t do it by) 2024 because we are so — by that time we’ll be preparing for the 2025 elections,” he added.

Garcia also relayed that they have only spent P800,000 of the P8.449 billion budget allocated for the upcoming polls. However, it would be crucial for Congress to come up with the bill if they insist on suspending the polls, as Comelec would start spending more money in the next few weeks to print ballots.

“So it’s okay with us even if it is 2023 May or December of 2023. Sa kasalukuyan po (As of now) we are now preparing for the December 5, 2022 elections for the information of the honorable body, we were given — as correctly pointed out by a member of this body earlier — we were given P8.449 billion as the budget for the SK and Barangay elections,” he said.

“As of today, we have spent only P800,000 out of that money, but in the next few days or weeks and months we will be spending from that money, because we will now start with our procurement as well as printing of the ballots, and that is where the urgency lies,” he explained.

Garcia said they would need around two months before the elections to prepare due to printing over 90 million ballots and their delivery to different provinces in the country.

The same House panel discussed more than 30 bills that would put off the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, scheduled for December 5, 2022. Before the hearing ended, the motion raised by Cavite 4th District Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. to postpone the elections was approved, with the committee members voting 12-2 in favor of the bills.

Makabayan bloc members Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro and Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel voted against the motion.

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After his 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.

Several lawmakers have expressed support for the suspension of the elections, citing several reasons like the setting aside of funds to be realigned for the COVID-19 response and avoiding two possibly divisive polls in a single calendar year.

However, Manuel last July warned that suspending the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls would paralyze several programs as it would hinder growth amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ: Comelec chief wants decision on barangay, SK polls before end of the month

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TAGS: barangay elections, Comelec, Elections, reschedule
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