MANILA, Philippines – Multiple groups pushed back over the proposed postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections set for December 2022.
In a statement, the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente) and the Ateneo Human Rights Center, among others, noted that since 2016, barangay and SK elections have been postponed thrice.
“In the past, barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections are often delayed, and officials end up holding office for up to five years,” they said in a statement on Friday, May 25. “This delay contravenes the standard of period elections as provided in Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
Leyte 1st District Representative and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, who is expected to assume the speakership in the 19th Congress, previously said lawmakers were mulling over the possibility of rescheduling the December 2022 barangay elections to save funds of up to P8 billion, which could be used for pandemic purposes.
Two separate House bills have been filed seeking to reset the said polls to either May 2024 or December 2025.
Lente and other groups however asserted that while pandemic response should be a major priority, it should not sacrifice Filipinos’ basic right to elect village and youth leaders.
“We see the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections as the most attainable level of organic citizens’ participation in public service and governance,” they said. “[It] is the best testament that citizens with limited resources would like to take part in nation-building given the opportunities.”
A history of repeatedly delayed barangay and SK polls has hounded the Duterte administration. The October 2016 polls was moved to October 2017, before it finally pushed through in May 2018. The next one was originally scheduled in May 2020, before it was moved again to December 2022.
The interior department had told GMA News the postponement of the 2022 barangay polls would be left to the incoming Ferdinand Marcos Jr. administration and the 19th Congress.
The Commission on Elections, meanwhile, has said preparations for the village and youth council polls will begin in June despite calls for postponement, since it is not yet final. – Rappler.com