House panel wants to postpone barangay, SK elections to May 2023

Sofia Tomacruz

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House panel wants to postpone barangay, SK elections to May 2023
However, members of the Makabayan bloc say elections should go on as scheduled in 2020 as it has become the custom of the Duterte administration to postpone the BSKE

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives want the government to postpone the 2020 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) to May 2023.

The House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms tackled on Tuesday, September 24, 37 House bills seeking to postpone the 2020 BSKE to either October 2022 or May 2023. Majority of lawmakers in the committee, however, agreed on moving the said elections to 2023.

“The motion for the postponement of the elections is hereby approved. The date will be in May 2023,” committee chairperson Juliet Ferrer said.

The consensus at the House aligns with the Senate, which has approved at the committee level, Senate Bill No. 1043 seeking to postpone the 2020 BSKE to May 2023 instead. As of Wednesday, the Senate bill was set to go through second reading.  

Dangerous precedent?

But not all lawmakers were on board.

Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate said Congress might be setting a “dangerous precendent” if it were to keep on postponing the village and youth elections. He urged lawmakers to keep the BSKE on track as the Commission on Elections, represented by poll commissioner Anotnio Kho Jr, said it would be ready to conduct it in 2020 if Congress would not postpone the elections.

Bayan Muna Ferdinand Gaite also expressed his opposition to the postponement of elections: “If we want to regularize the elections, now will be the best opportune moment, not any other time. We hope that for the same argument, for the purpose of regularity, the precedent before (delaying elections), sana ma-regularize natin (we hope we can now regularize),” Gaite said.

Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago expressed concern that the postponement of barangay and SK elections would be used as a “pre-text for justifying term extension up to the national level.” If elections will be held in 2023 instead of 2020, current leaders could hold office for 5 years, instead of just two.

Comelec earlier said it has “slowed down” its preparations for the May 2020 BSKE following the President’s call for Congress to postpone the polls.

Prior to this, barangay and SK elections were already postponed twice under the Duterte administration. The polls were first postponed from October 2016 to October 2017, then pushed back once more to May 2018 after Duterte signed Republic Act No. 10952. (READ: TIMELINE: Efforts to postpone barangay, SK elections) – 

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.