Senate bill calls for Barangay, SK polls to be suspended in 2022

File photo shows teachers preparing election materials at Corazon Aquino Primary School in Quezon City on May 13, 2018, a day before the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections. (RESEARCHER/GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE)

MANILA, Philippines – A bill requesting suspension from December 2022 bArangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections were tabled in the Senate by Senator Francis Escudero.

According to Escudero’s explanatory note to the as-yet-unnumbered bill — copies of which were shared with reporters on Friday — suspending barangay elections until May 2024 has benefits, especially given the current situation where the country is still battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This Senate bill offers several distinct advantages. First, the postponement of barangay and SK elections provides continuity in government operations at the barangay level, particularly in the implementation of national programs and projects,” the Senator said.

“Second, the proposed measure provides immediate access to the institutional memories of grassroots leaders, which could be used in the formulation of plans, programs and other interventions to adapt to the new normal and return to the pre-pandemic growth trajectory. from the Philippines,” he added.

Escudero pointed out that the measure will also allow the national government to allocate the part of the budget that would be used for the conduct of the elections – around 8.44 billion pesos – to other pressing concerns.

“Third, the postponement of the barangay and SK elections allows both the national government and local government units to focus on interventions needed to recover from the pandemic and address lingering concerns about oil prices, l inflation and poverty,” he explained.

“Finally, the bill allows the government to redirect part of the 8.44 billion peso appropriations for the barangay and SK elections to interventions aimed at maintaining the current momentum to fight the coronavirus pandemic and achieve our collective socio-economic goals,” he added.

Escudero is not the first to introduce a bill suspending said ballots among lawmakers in the upcoming 19th Congress.

Last Wednesday, the House of Representatives said Davao Oriental 2nd District Representative Cheeno Miguel Almario introduced Bill 1367 to move the elections to October 9, 2023.

The Electoral Commission (Comelec) recently said that the December barangay elections will go ahead after several postponements unless a new law is passed.

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Norman D. Briggs