The House Suffrage and Electoral Reforms committee voted to move the barangay and youth council elections from December 5, 2022 to December 4, 2023.
Even with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) saying that postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections for at least a year will also include an additional cost of P5 billion, at least 12 committee members voted in favor of the said measure.
Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro and Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel were the only two who voted against the postponement. They said that this measure will rob the voters of their right to choose their public officials.
“Since the terms of office of the barangay and SK officials are already over, it’s as if we are the ones appointing them. We overstep the principle of making people choose for their representatives,” Castro said.
Election watchdogs Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente), National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections, and Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting who were invited during the panel’s hearing, expressed their opposition to the postponement of the December 2022 barangay polls.
“When elections are postponed, the right of the people to accept or reject their leaders is also postponed. The pandemic highlighted the role of the barangay. The elections would be a good opportunity for people to reward high-performing barangay officials,” Lente policy consultant Carlo Africa said.
Newly-elected officials during December 2023 polls will start their term at noon of January 1, 2024.
“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],” Comelec chief George Garcia earlier told the House Suffrage and Electoral Reforms panel.
“It will entail additional cost. If we factor the increase in honoraria expense for our teachers, it would be an additional P5 billion,” Garcia added.
However, Garcia said last May that postponing the 2022 barangay and youth elections would mean huge savings for the government.
About 38 bills were filed seeking the postponement of the scheduled December 5 polls, the most commonly cited reasons were:
- to save money as the country recovers from the pandemic, and allot the P8.4 billion worth of funds for COVID-19 response instead
- to allow the government to “heal” after the divisive May 2022 elections
The subsequent barangay elections should have been held in May 2020. However, then-president Rodrigo Duterte signed in December 2019 a measure postponing the elections to December 5, 2022.
— Ronald Espartinez