Barangay polls still a go without postponement law
The fate of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections still hangs in the balance with only 40 days to go to its original schedule.
For the Commission on Elections, the said elections will still push through while there is no law postponing the polls originally set on Oct. 23 this year to May next year.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez explained that even though the House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading its proposed deferment, the Senate has no clear timetable yet.
“There is no timetable for the Senate to come up with its version of the postponement bill. So despite the House version being completed, the elections are still pushing through,” he said.
On Monday, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading its bill seeking to postpone the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
From its original Oct. 23 date, the bill seeks to defer the said polls to the second Monday of May 2018, with incumbent barangay officials to stay on until their successors are elected.
On the other hand, its counterpart bill in the Senate—which wants to postpone the barangay and youth polls to Oct. 22 next year (not Oct. 23 as earlier reported)—is still pending.
The Comelec has consistently adopted a neutral stance on the issue of the polls deferment since its task is to implement election laws.
However, poll officials have repeatedly urged lawmakers to decide on the issue as early as possible to avoid the waste of public funds in preparing for the elections.
“This state of affairs—half-in, half-out, with only a little over a month to go—makes things complicated for election stakeholders, particularly candidates,” Jimenez admitted.
He noted that the only difference between the proposals of the House of Representatives and the Senate is the new date for the said elections.
“If this report is accurate, then it would appear that the Senate is in favor of postponement as well,” Jimenez said.
He added that once the disagreement in dates is sorted out, all that is needed for the postponement to be finalized is the signature of President Duterte, who also wants the polls deferred.
The Comelec also welcomed the development at the House of Representatives, since it brings the poll body closer to the fate of the barangay and youth polls.
“While this development does not mean that the polls has already been postponed—you need a law, signed by the President for that to happen—it does move us closer to that outcome. We all continue to wait and hope for the best possible outcome,” Jimenez added.