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Comelec: No stopping SK, village polls on Oct

July 24, 2007 5:11pm
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday said there is no stopping the synchronized barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on October, saying it can no longer postpone the polls to an early 2008 schedule that commissioners wanted.

Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos insisted that the poll body was ready for the village and SK elections, but said it would have been better if people had more time to register.

"Wala nang atrasan ito (We can't go back now)," he said, jokingly adding in Filipino that, "I can't remember the last time we had SK and barangay elections. It's been a while. Some candidates have grown their beards because of several extensions. Twice extended."

"The SK bets are already grandfathers I think," Abalos added in jest.

He said it was the Congress which set the date for the synchronized elections with the passage of Republic Act 9164 and that they were not asked about it.

"We would have wanted that this not push through in October. The May elections had just passed. Until June were trying to wrap up proclamations," he said.

Comelec proclaimed that the 12th senator and winning party-list groups barely a week before the opening of the 14th Congress this month.

Abalos said they have no problem preparing for the elections but they were concerned with the short time allotted for the registration of voters.

"We don't have any problems with the preparations. Our problem is the registration especially in the village elections, [the documents] will have to pass through biometric capturing. The problem is when we use this technology, we will run out of time," Abalos said.

In a separate interview, Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer said the national elections was "too close" to the SK and barangay elections.

Some election offices have run out application forms, Ferrer said, that Comelec officials have to recycle unused forms.

He said they wanted the synchronized elections to be set early next year "but October 29 is what the law mandates."

This will be the first time in 20 years that the dates of national and barangay elections were too close, Ferrer added.

Another Comelec official who refused to be named said that in one of the bicameral committee hearings they attended, lawmakers asked them to step outside the room as they will be having an executive session.

When the Comelec officials return to the room and suggested that barangay elections should be set at a later date, the lawmakers told them that they cannot accommodate the suggestion as they have already scheduled the date.

"Magugulo lang daw yung pinag-usapan nila (lawmakers) (It will be too confusing if lawmakers still take it up)," the Comelec official said. - GMANews.TV