May or October 2018? Congress undecided on new election date

 

MANILA, Philippines – While both houses of Congress have seemed to agree on postponing – for the second time – the barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections, they can’t agree just yet on the new date.

At a press conference on Monday, August 29, House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms chair CIBAC Representative Sherwin Tugna said that while the House has formally decided to push for a May 2018 election, the Senate is mulling over an October 2018 schedule.

“That has to be threshed out by means of a meeting again by the Lower and Upper House,” said Tugna.

Tugna has led the committee in passing a bill that would postpone the elections, schedule in October 2017 to May 2018. It made it past the committee level and is now up for 2nd reading.

The Senate has yet to make such progress. During a Senate electoral reforms hearing on August 24, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) itself urged Congress to decide with finality on the proposed postponement. With elections less than two months away and without a law in place, the Commission will be forced to hold the elections as planned.

But Tugna said that Comelec Chair Andres Bautista, during the House budget hearing, said they had “slowed down” preparations, including the printing of materials for the barangay elections.

Senate committee chair Senator Richard Gordon had earlier mentioned he was eyeing October 2018 for the new schedule of the elections.

The House picked May 2018 to synchronize voting with the planned plebiscite for the proposed law creating a Bangsamoro entity.

President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier signed a law that postponed the elections from October 2016 to October 2017. The President has often cited his campaign against illegal drugs and the supposed involvement of barangay officials in the drug industry as a reason for postponing the elections. – Rappler.com