Comelec postpones barangay, SK polls in Mindanao

Paterno Esmaquel II
Comelec postpones barangay, SK polls in Mindanao
The poll body cites threats to the safety of voters in Mindanao, which President Rodrigo Duterte placed under martial law due to clashes in Marawi City

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday, September 5, decided to postpone the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections in Mindanao because of martial law in the island group.

In a resolution signed by all 7 Comelec en banc members, the poll body cited factors such as security.

“Taking all of these into consideration, the Commission deems it is for the best interest of all citizens in Mindanao that elections be postponed to a later date, or at such a time when the cause for the imposition of martial law has altogether ceased, and the electorate, rather than fear for their lives and security, is free, in the truest sense of the word, to undertake such a political exercise,” the Comelec said.

The poll body said this postponement is subject to two conditions: 

  • The Comelec “shall immediately conduct” the barangay and SK elections “not later than 30 days from the cessation of the cause of postponement of elections” – that is, martial law in Mindanao.
  • If Congress passes a law postponing the barangay and SK elections nationwide, “the said law shall take precedence.”

Nationwide, the barangay and SK elections are scheduled on October 23. 

It is unclear if the barangay and SK elections nationwide will push through on this date, because Congress needs to pass a law to postpone these for the entire Philippines.

The Omnibus Election Code, however, allows the Comelec to postpone polls in parts of the country. 

Safety concerns

This new Comelec resolution comes months after President Rodrigo Duterte on May 23 declared martial law in Mindanao due to government clashes with terrorists in Marawi City. 

On July 22, Congress granted Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao until December 31. 

In postponing the barangay and SK elections in Mindanao, the Comelec cited threats to the safety of voters and Comelec employees in the island group.

On top of this, the poll body said elections will require “the massive deployment or redeployment” of cops and soldiers. 

Pushing through with the barangay and SK elections in Mindanao, the Comelec said, “would be akin to taking away where they are needed most at this point in time – that is, to quell the rebellion or to stop the spread of lawless violence.”

The Comelec said its decision was also based on its August 15 public hearing in Davao City to consult stakeholders about this. – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.