The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the bill which aims to postpone the December 2022 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections for one year.

House Bill 4 plans to move the barangay and SK polls to the first Monday of December 2023. It was approved with 264 affirmative votes, six negative votes, and three abstention.

Even with Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairperson George Garcia earlier reminding lawmakers that postponing the barangay and SK elections by a year would require additional cost for the government, majority of House members still approved the bill. 

“If we postpone it to March or December 2023, we will have to continue registration of new voters. This will mean additional voters, additional ballots [to be printed], additional teachers [to serve as poll workers], additional precincts, additional election paraphernalia [to buy],” Garcia said.

“It will entail additional cost. If we factor the increase in honoraria expense for our teachers, it would be an additional P5 billion,” he added.

Meanwhile, House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro of ACT Teachers party-list who voted against the measure said the move limits the voice of the people in selecting their leaders. 

“The postponement is unjustifiable. There is no such thing as election fatigue,” Castro said referring to the reason cited by supporters of postponing the election.

“This is not a postponement of election, but postponement of democracy and the voice of the people,” she added.

Ronald Espartinez