[Editor’s Note: In an earlier version of this story, we said that SK posts have been vacant since 2016 due to the SK Reform Act. We have corrected this.]
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – In February, the election body and the local government department said the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections scheduled for May 14, 2018, would definitely happen.
This week, however, Congress fast-tracked efforts to reschedule the elections for the 3rd time.
The village polls have been postponed twice in the last two years. Barangay officials have been in office since 2013 – beyond their 3-year terms – while SK posts have been vacant also since 2013, when Congress was tasked to come up first with a law reforming the youth council system.
Here’s a timeline of the efforts to postpone the barangay and SK elections.
June to August – Thirteen House measures and 5 Senate bills are filed, seeking to postpone the October 31, 2016, barangay and SK elections. Committee hearings are conducted in both chambers of Congress.
August 25 – House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez favors the postponement, saying it is “practical” to do so.
August 26 – In a speech, President Rodrigo Duterte throws his support behind the postponement, arguing it would save the government money. “Just spend it on [drug] rehabilitation centers,” he says.
Duterte also says if the elections were to happen as scheduled, drug lords would likely back politicians who will protect them and their trade.
After the President’s pronouncement, the Comelec suspends the printing of ballots for the barangay polls.
August 30 – The Senate takes up Senate Bill 1112, a substitute for 5 postponement bills, at the plenary. (LOOK: Senate panel recommends postponement of barangay, SK polls)
September 6 – The House of Representatives approves on second reading House Bill 3504, which consolidates 13 postponement measures. Senate Bill 1112 is also passed on second reading.
September 13 – Both houses pass their postponement bills on 3rd reading.
October 15 – More than two weeks before the elections, Duterte signs Republic Act 10923, rescheduling the polls to October 23, 2017.
Incumbent barangay officials will remain in their posts. However, since 2013, when the SK polls were postponed through Republic Act 10632, there had been no holdover SK officials.
March 22 – Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno says President Duterte favors not only a second resetting of the polls but also the power for him to appoint interim or OIC barangay officials.
The next day, Duterte says the public sector and the Church can nominate barangay OICs.
Months later, in September, the President says he wants “someone else” to appoint the OICs.
March 27 – Speaker Alvarez says the Local Government Code must be amended first before the President can appoint OICs, in case of another postponement. Alvarez adds he is confident the House would pass this amendment.
August 8 – The House opposition bloc airs concerns over another postponement, saying such move “trivializes our democratic processes.”
August 9 – The Comelec starts printing ballots and other election-related forms for the October 2017 polls. The need to prepare for the polls “is the overriding consideration,” explains Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez. (READ: Are we postponing barangay and SK elections or not? P500M is at stake)
The poll body finishes printing 59.6 million official ballots in September, reports the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
August 14 – In a House hearing, the Liga ng mga Barangay says it favors another postponement, this time until after the May 2019 midterm elections.
August 29 – It is reported that Congress is mulling over when to reset the polls. The House wants it for May 2018, but the Senate prefers an October 2018 schedule.
September 11 – The House of Representatives approves on 3rd reading House Bill 6308, a substitute for 6 bills and resolutions pushing for a new barangay polls postponement.
September 20 – Senate Bill 1584, substituting for two postponement bills, is passed on 3rd reading. The consolidated version of the House and Senate bills, adopted by both houses days later, says the polls would now take place in May 2018. There would be no appointment of OICs in barangays.
October 2 – Three weeks before the scheduled polls, Duterte signs Republic Act 10952, rescheduling the barangay and SK elections anew to May 14, 2018.
January 31 – The Comelec limits the suspension of the barangay and SK polls to Marawi City. The elections in the rest of Mindanao, which it has suspended earlier, “will push through as scheduled, with the exception of Marawi City, owing to the prevailing conditions in that city.”
February 6 – In a press conference, Comelec and the Department of the Interior and Local Government announce that the May 2018 barangay and SK elections “will definitely push through.”
They emphasize the need to elect village officials who are matino, mahusay, at maasahan (decent, excellent, and reliable).
February 13 – Election watchdog National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) urges Congress to not postpone the village polls again.
“In a truly functioning democracy, regularly renewing the mandate of elected officials is an exercise of good governance,” Namfrel says.
February 26 – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque refutes the claim of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon that administration lawmakers want to reset the barangay and SK elections again.
Roque argues that Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III himself earlier said that polls “will push through” despite postponement bills filed at the House.
March 12 – The House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms votes 14-2 to postpone the barangay and SK elections once again, and 17-0 to set it for October 2018.
Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Representative Umali says he backs the postponement, citing the push for a federal system of government.
March 13 – Top Senate leaders say the timeline is too tight to pass a postponement bill in the Senate. At this point, there is no counterpart measure filed in the Senate yet.
Congress is set to go on break from March 24 to May 13, the eve of the village polls. (READ: Tensions flare as lawmakers rush to approve barangay poll postponement)
It seeks to move the barangay and SK elections a 3rd time, to the 2nd Monday of October 2018. – Rappler.com