MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The House of Representatives gave its nod to the bill that would postpone the 2020 barangay and Sangguninang Kabataan (SK) elections to December 5, 2022.
Lawmakers approved House Bill (HB) No. 4933 on 3rd and final reading on Monday, November 4. A total of 194 legislators voted yes, while only 6 voted no. There were no abstentions from the vote.
The bill does not need to pass through the bicameral conference committee level anymore, as HB 4933 is similar to the version the Senate passed in September.
This means the consolidated version of the House and Senate bills would immediately be sent to Malacañang for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.
This would also be the 3rd postponement of the barangay and SK polls under the Duterte administration. (READ: Postponing the barangay and SK elections – again)
The swift approval of the bill is not surprising, as Duterte had ordered the 18th Congress to pass it during his 4th State of the Nation Address in July.
The House is already proposing to realign the P5.77 billion initially allocated to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to fund the 2020 barangay and SK polls, indicating a high chance the postponement is already a done deal.
Bayan Muna Representative and House Deputy Minority Leader Carlos Zarate previously warned that the repeated postponement of the elections would set a “dangerous precedent.”
But Comelec Commissioner Antonio Kho Jr said the poll body would be ready to conduct the elections in 2020 if Congress would not postpone it.
On Monday, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said: “This does not come as a surprise. The Comelec had, in fact, slowed down preparations for the Barangay Elections of 2020 in anticipation of this legislation.”
Instead, “the Comelec is looking forward to focusing on the process of re-starting the continuing registration and, in the longer term, preparing for the 2022 National and Local Elections,” he added. – Rappler.com
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