House okays postponement of barangay, SK elections

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    THE House of Representatives yesterday approved on final reading the measure seeking to postpone the next barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

    Congressmen voted 194-6 with no abstention in favor of House Bill No. 4933 moving the barangay and SK polls from May 2020 to the second Monday of May 2023.

    Lawmakers said the measure is meant to give the Commission on Elections (Comelec) enough time to prepare for the elections that will be held a year after the 2022 national elections.

    The barangay and SK polls had been postponed twice, in 2016 and 2018, as part of efforts to fight narco-politics in the barangay level.

    Among the authors of the measure are majority leader Martin Romualudez, deputy speaker Paolo Duterte of Davao City, Way Kurat Zamora of Compostela Valley, Faustino Dy of Isabela, Claudine Diana Bautista of Dumper party-list, deputy speakers Raneo Abu and Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte; and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.

    There were at least 37 measures filed for the same purpose. Of these, 26 bills proposed to move the election to 2022, five to 2021, five to 2023, and one to any date set by Congress.

    Abu, author of House Bill 1571, said the postponement is meant to “allow incumbent barangay officials to continue implementing the various policies and programs of the Duterte administration.”

    Villafuerte said the postponement of the barangay and SK elections would be beneficial to Comelec officials and employees, teachers and all others who were involved in the May 2022 elections as well as to all the voters.

    Velasco, who sought to move the polls from May 2020 to October 2022, said the bill would rectify the shortened term of barangay and SK officials.

    In House Bill No. 1071, he said extending the terms of barangay and SK officials “will be more coherent with the provisions of law and will ultimately redound to the effective allocation of resources and services towards nation-building.”

    The Marinduque lawmaker noted that under the Local Government Code, the term of office of barangay officials and SK members should be for three years. However, with the enactment of Republic Act No. 10952, the synchronized Barangay and SK elections were moved to the second Monday of May 2018.

    “Unwittingly, the elected barangay and SK officials in 2018 are now constrained to serve for only a two-year term in stark contrast to the mandate of the Local Government Code and to the detriment of project and program implementation that would benefit the Filipino people,” Velasco said.