Next Congress told: Don’t defer barangay, SK polls

Next Congress told: Donât defer barangay, SK polls
Posters of candidates for barangay elections are strewn across a fence in this undated file photo.
Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — Groups have launched a petition pleading to members of the next Congress not to postpone the “long overdue” barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections which are scheduled to be held on December 5, 2022.

Led by the Legal Network for Truthful Elections, the groups said further delaying the village and youth polls is “an attack against grassroots democracy and community power.”

House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, the top contender to become the chamber’s next speaker, has said that among his legislative priorities in the 19th Congress is to heed the call of barangay leaders to postpone the village polls and save some P8.141 billion for cash aid to those still reeling from the effects of the pandemic.

Romualdez, cousin of President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is also pushing for a new stimulus package, which is still short on details but is proposed to be called “Bangon Bayan Muli,” after the initials of the incoming chief executive. 

The last time the country held barangay and SK elections was in May 2018. Polls for these posts — which are citizens’ first points of contact to the government — were supposed to be held in May 2020, but lawmakers moved the elections to the first Monday of December 2022.

Due to this postponement, the terms of village and youth officials were effectively extended from just two years to five years.

“This delay contravenes the standard of periodic elections as provided in Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Although the pandemic response should be a top priority, this endeavor should not have collided with the citizen’s basic right to elect barangay and SK leaders,” the groups said.

They said that they see the barangay and SK polls as “the most attainable level of organic citizens’ participation in public service and governance,” as opposed to the recently concluded national and local elections which ended up being dominated by political dynasties.

“BSKE is the best testament that citizens with limited resources would like to take part in nation-building given the right opportunities,” they added. — Xave Gregorio


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