Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan and national director of Caritas Philippines, casts his vote for the local and national elections at a polling station in Kidapawan City on May 9, 2022. CARITAS PHILIPPINES

The social action arm of the Catholic Church said Saturday that this year’s barangay elections should push through.

Caritas Philippines head Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo said suspending the polls would “reflect how our national political leaders undermine the importance of barangay level politics in the exercise of our democratic rights”.

“It is not right for the government to suppress electoral processes, especially that the barangay and SK elections are seen as the most accessible and organic form of citizen’s engagement in public service and governance,” Bagaforo said.

The Kidapawan prelate made the statement as the incoming leadership of the House of Representative looks into another postponement of the elections set this December.

Presumptive House Speaker Martin Romualdez said the government could save P8 billion if the elections would be postponed. The budget, according to him, can instead be utilized for the ongoing pandemic response.

The barangay elections have been postponed thrice already since 2018, giving current officials a term beyond the usual three years.

Fr. Tony Labiao, executive secretary of the national Caritas, said different government agencies still allocated funds for the ongoing COVID-19 response.

Even the Department of Health, he added, was not able to fully expend its budget last year.

“Thus, like in any other organization, our government needs to step up its game to ensure good planning and better execution, and not to use this as a lame excuse to postpone the December elections,” Labiao said. — CBCP News