No law, no stopping polls, says Comelec
Preparations for village and youth council elections on May 14 would continue in the absence of a law deferring the elections to a later date, according to Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James Jimenez.
“Without a law postponing them, the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections must continue to be considered a ‘go,’” he said on Tuesday.
Jimenez issued the brief statement after the House of Representatives voted 164 to 27 in favor of the postponement of the barangay and youth elections to Oct. 8, 2018.
If passed into law, this would be the elections’ third postponement under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
The elections were initially scheduled on Oct. 31, 2016, but this was deferred to Oct. 23, 2017.
Last year, lawmakers moved for the rescheduling of the elections to May 14 this year.
Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, however, said another postponement of the elections was not on the Senate’s agenda.
Pimentel said he considered the move to postpone the elections anew as “dead.”
No counterpart at Senate
No counterpart bill to postpone the elections had been filed at the Senate and Congress has only until March 21 to pass any measure that would reschedule the elections before it goes on a break.
Jimenez said while the House approval of the bill was a step closer to another postponement of the elections, the prudent thing to do for the Comelec was continue preparing for it.
The watchdog group Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) expressed “vigorous opposition” to the House’s attempts to push back the elections to October.
PPCRV chair Rene Sarmiento said the periodic and regular conduct of elections ensured that the people’s chosen leaders “will remain answerable and accountable.”
“Absent the possibility of replacement, because of poor performance and broken promises, these political agents will pursue their personal concerns and agenda and ignore their covenant of service with the people,” he said.
President Duterte had given mixed signals on whether to proceed with the elections.