Reasons for delaying barangay, SK elections ‘not credible’ — Lagman | Inquirer News

Reasons for delaying barangay, SK elections ‘not credible’ — Lagman

/ 08:20 AM September 15, 2022
Edcel Lagman. STORY: Reasons for delaying barangay, SK elections ‘not credible’ — Lagman

Albay First District Rep. Edcel Lagman. (INQUIRER.net file photo / NOY MORCOSO)

MANILA, Philippines — There are no credible reasons provided by lawmakers who authored bills seeking the suspension of the barangay and SK elections that were supposed to be held on Dec. 5, 2022, Albay First District Rep. Edcel Lagman said in a statement on Wednesday.

Lagman belied the assertion of lawmakers — both in the Senate and the House of Representatives —  the government would save P7 billion to P8 billion if the elections would be moved to December 2023. The money, they said, could be allocated instead to the government’s COVID-19 response.

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“The aforesaid reason is utterly unconstitutional because the Comelec [Commission on Elections] enjoys fiscal autonomy which includes a prohibition that any appropriations released to the Comelec cannot be countermanded by the Executive and utilized for other purposes. The remaining unused funds will constitute a continuing appropriation under the sole jurisdiction of the Comelec,” Lagman said.

Lagman also disputed the argument that the postponement would give Comelec time to rest after conducting the national elections last May 2022.

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“The proffered reason that the Comelec needs a respite after conducting the May 2022 national and local elections does not obtain because the Comelec itself has repeatedly said that it is ready to conduct the December 2022 village and youth elections,” he said.

Last July, several lawmakers filed bills seeking to suspend the elections.

One of them was Sen. Francis Escudero who said that such a measure would allow the realignment of funds amounting to P8.44 billion to other pressing concerns like economic recovery and the COVID-19 pandemic response.

However, several groups also opposed the move.  In the House, the Makabayan bloc insisted that suspending the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections would be regressive, as it would make several key programs at the barangay level stagnant.

Lagman also claimed that suspending the polls, besides denting democratic foundations, might actually be costlier.

“No less than COMELEC Chairman George Garcia relayed to legislators that a postponement of the barangay elections to December 2023 will be a costly exercise because additional funds would be needed to the tune of P18.358-B constituting the P7.5-B savings as continuing appropriation and an additional budget of P10.858-B,” Lagman said.

“Elections are the bedrock of democratic governments. Democracy at the grassroots must be assured by holding regular elections for barangay and SK officials and should not be imperiled by repeated postponements of grassroots elections,” he added.

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—WITH A REPORT FROM LYKA FARILLON (INQUIRER.net TRAINEE)

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TAGS: barangay elections, Commission on Elections, Edcel Lagman
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