MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has changed the period of the filing of certificates of candidacy (COC) for the October 2023 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls, after one senator pushed for a date closer to election day.
The original date set by the Comelec for the filing of COCs was July 3 to 7, but Chairman George Garcia said on Wednesday, March 22, that candidacy filing is now scheduled from August 28 to September 2.
The COC filing period coincides with the start of the election period, and Senator Francis Tolentino said setting the event in July – three months before election day – would “burden local government units” due to prohibitions that would take effect.
Once election period kicks in, local governments are prohibited from suspending elective local officials, transferring officers and employees in the civil service, appointing or hiring new employees, creating new positions, giving promotions and salary increases, and releasing expenditures in connection with public works and social services, among others.
There will also be Comelec checkpoints in every town or city, which Tolentino said will incur additional expenses on the part of the Philippine National Police.
Parañaque 2nd District Representative Gus Tambunting had opposed the original COC filing period set by the Comelec, saying it would tilt the polls in favor of wealthier politicians.
Unlike past elections, a premature campaigning ban would be in effect for the barangay polls, which means that elective aspirants will only be allowed to formally woo voters from October 19 to 28.
This is after the poll body under Garcia’s leadership offered a fresh interpretation of Penera vs Comelec, a 2009 Supreme Court ruling that essentially took away the punishment for premature campaigning. (READ: Why ‘candidates’ can spend so much and not report it)
The next round of barangay elections has been long delayed: It was supposed to be conducted in May 2020, but was postponed to December 2022, and then moved again to October 2023.
Advocates for clean elections have decried the delays, saying postponements deprive the voting public of their right to regularly elect a new set of leaders. – Rappler.com
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