Comelec rejects call to postpone barangay, SK polls in BARMM
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has found no legal grounds to postpone the Oct. 30 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) requested by five of its six governors of the region.
Comelec Chair George Garcia said the Omnibus Election Code allows the poll body to postpone the conduct of elections in an area only due to “serious” grounds, such as violence, terrorism, loss or destruction of election paraphernalia, and natural disaster.
“The question is, do these [grounds] exist [in the BARMM]? If they do not [exist], the Comelec has no ground to postpone the elections,” said Garcia in a recent news conference.
Last week, Governors Jim Salliman of Basilan, Abdusakur Tan of Sulu, Yshmael Sali of Tawi-Tawi, Mamintal Adiong Jr. of Lanao del Sur and Mariam Mangudadatu of Maguindanao del Sur renewed their call to postpone the barangay and SK elections.
They wanted to defer the barangay and SK elections until after the full deactivation of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighting units, fearing violence would erupt with many MILF fighters still bearing firearms.
Garcia said the BARMM governors could instead ask Congress to legislate the postponement.
“In my opinion, if the area involved is that big, there should be a law that will postpone the elections,” he said.
Also, Comelec has no authority to declare the incumbent barangay and SK officials in the BARMM on holdover capacity, Garcia said, adding “only Congress can do that.”
The Comelec chief nevertheless assured they would “exercise due process” and listen to public sentiment on whether or not the twin polls would need to be postponed in the Bangsamoro provinces.