VOTING 14-2, the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms on Monday ruled to postpone the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to the second Monday of October 2018 from the scheduled May 14, 2018.
This moves the polls to October 8, marking the third postponement of Barangay and SK polls.
The 14 who voted in favor of the postponement were Deputy Speakers Gwendolyn Garcia, Fredenil Castro, and Raneo Abu, Reps. Robert Ace Barbers, Xavier Jesus Romualdo, Luisa Lloren Cuaresma, Vini Nola Ortega, Rodante Marcoleta, Benhur Lopez, Jr., Jose Panganiban, Jr., Deogracias Victor Savellano, Magnolia Antonino, Winston Castelo, and Joseph Paduano.
Those who voted against were Reps. Antonio Tinio and Edgar Erice.
The committee chaired by Rep. Sherwin Tugna shall consolidate House bills 7072, 7128, 7167 and 7128, all seeking to postpone the polls, and then submit the draft to the plenary for approval.
House members who have wished to push back further the Barangay and SK elections argued that the postponement is necessary as the country gears up for federalism.
“The government has been pushing for a shift to a federal form of government as a means to address issues particularly in the strife-torn Mindanao. Postponing anew the upcoming Barangay and Sanguniang Kabataan (SK) elections this May 2018 will give Congress more time to determine the proper structure of the government when it transitions into a federal system,” said Rep. Reynaldo Umali in his explanatory note for HB 7167.
Meanwhile, HB author 7217 Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento cited issues raised against the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) for exercising its Option to Purchase vote counting machines used in 2016 for the 2019 National Elections.
“Thus, moving the Barangay elections to 2020 will give the COMELEC the opportunity to concentrate its attention and resources to ensuring that the conduct of the 2019 Elections will be orderly and beyond reproach,” Sarmiento said.
Atty. Teopisto Elnas, Jr. of the COMELEC said the commission is on track in terms of preparations for the scheduled May polls, and postponement may present complications as this would overlap with preparations for the 2019 midterm polls.
“I cannot think actually of any reason, if you’re talking operations or costing for that matter, to postpone it again,” said Consortium on Electoral Reform Executive Director Ramon Casiple.
Resource speakers present during the deliberations presented differing positions, with the Liga ng mga Barangay in support for the postponement and the National Youth Commission against it. | CMB Engracia/congress.gov.ph
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