Immediate decision sought for barangay, SK polls postponement

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Congress should decide by Aug. 22 if it wants to postpone the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said yesterday.

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said the poll body welcomes the move of the majority coalition in the House of Representatives to vote for the postponement of the synchronized polls.

“If there is a law postponing the elections, we will follow it. But it should be passed by Aug. 22 as that is our projected start for the printing of ballots,” he said.

While there has been a caucus among lawmakers to get the sentiments of 292 House members, there is no final and official decision yet on whether to postpone the barangay elections.

“The consensus is not yet clear. It is not yet certain how many are in favor of postponing the barangay elections. As of now, there is no decision yet,” House Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro told reporters.

On Tuesday, the majority coalition conducted the voting in a closed-door caucus called by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said 256 of 292 House members voted to re-schedule the synchronized polls. 

The lawmakers did not set a definite future date for the holding of the elections.

Earlier, Bautista recommended that the twin polls be synchronized with President Duterte’s plan to hold a constitutional convention for the amendment of the 1987 Constitution.

Duterte changed his mind and pushed for constituent assembly instead. In spite of this, many congressmen still want the elections to be delayed. 

Bautista said the Comelec had started preparations for the elections. He gave assurance that the money spent would not be wasted in case of a postponement.

“What has been spent is still minimal as bidding is ongoing. It won’t be wasted,” he said.

The Comelec chief has yet to ascertain the fate of sitting elected barangay officials should the elections be postponed. He said there could be term extension.

Castro, along with fellow deputy speakers Miro Quimbo of Marikina and Raneo Abu of Batangas, wants the political exercise to push through, mainly because the government has allotted a budget and the Comelec is all set for the polls.

“We should push through with it. These barangay chairmen should have fresh mandates,” Abu said.

Although he had authored a resolution for postponement, he said he is willing to withdraw it.

Quimbo said no exact vote was taken during Tuesday’s caucus among the majority congressmen because this was held through voice vote, but he surmised that most of the lawmakers want the barangay elections postponed.

Personally, he wants the exercise to push through. – With Delon Porcalla                             


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