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Senate OKs on 2nd reading bill postponing Barangay, SK polls

The Senate approved on second reading Tuesday a bill postponing the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections originally scheduled in May 2020 and rescheduling it to December 5, 2022.

The bill also proposes holding the Barangay and SK elections every three years.

The Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation, chaired by Senator Imee Marcos, earlier recommended holding the synchronized elections on the second Monday of May 2023.

However, during the period of interpellation, some senators expressed apprehension that the barangay officials are already in their post for too long so they decided to hold it in 2022 or six months after the May 2022 national elections.

During the period of amendments, Senate Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto noted that it would be more convenient for the Commission on Elections to hold the barangay and SK elections a year before or a year after the national polls.

Marcos replied the six and half months period is enough for Comelec to prepare for the local polls.

“We have given six and a half months which they consider as sufficient time. It is manual, it is not hybrid…So six and a half months or so apparently is a short period, Comelec will be pressed for time but they claim that they can do it without undue failure of elections and other problems,” she said.

Recto said his fear is that the President, whoever will win in the May 2022 elections, will again ask the Congress for another postponement.

“My fear is that if we conduct the elections of barangay in December 2022 two national elections will be held on that year, one in May, one in December. The future president, whoever that maybe, will come back again and ask again for a postponement of the barangay elections,” he said.

“In the past when we have this, normally when it is within one year we ask for postponement. I  would have preferred May 2023 or May 2021,” he added.

Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said the December 2022 date was a compromise.

“Initially some of the bills that have been filed indicate October of 2022 and it was too close to May of 2022. Then there was another proposal that it be conducted in May 2023, many of us felt it would have been too long of a term, close to 7 years,” he said.

Recto then just said that he will put his opposition with regards to the date of the barangay and SK polls into record.

“Let it not be said that I did not put into record that there is a higher probability of postponing again the barangay and SK elections come… for the next administration when they get the power after May 2022,” he said. 

Also on Tuesday, the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms approved the bill postponing the Barangay and SK polls from next year to May 2023.

The Duterte administration had postponed the barangay and SK polls twice, in 2016 and 2018, to supposedly rid the barangays of officials linked to the illegal drug trade.— RSJ, GMA News