Supreme Court of the Philippines

‘Unconstitutional’: Supreme Court rebuffs Marcos’ postponement of barangay polls

Dwight de Leon

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‘Unconstitutional’: Supreme Court rebuffs Marcos’ postponement of barangay polls

Photos from Presidential Communications Office, Rappler file; Graphics by Nico Villarete/Rappler

This is the first time that the Supreme Court rebuffed a Marcos Jr. legislation since the president assumed office in June 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday, June 27, that the law signed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. which postponed the barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) elections originally scheduled in December 2022 was unconstitutional.

It is the first time that the High Court rebuffed a Marcos Jr. legislation since he assumed office in June 2022.

In a press release, the Supreme Court said that a grave abuse of discretion was committed when Republic Act 11935 was enacted.

Advocates of the postponement had wanted to delay the polls until October 2023 to realign the budget initially allocated for the Comelec, and use the funds for pandemic recovery efforts.

“The postponement of the 2022 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections by RA 11935 for the purpose of augmenting the Executive’s funds is violative of the Constitution because it unconstitutionally transgresses the constitutional prohibition against any transfer of appropriations, and it unconstitutionally and arbitrarily overreaches the exercise of the rights of suffrage, liberty, and expression,” the Supreme Court public information office said.

“RA 11935 violates the freedom of suffrage as it failed to satisfy the requisites of the substantive aspect of the due process clause of the Constitution,” it added.

‘Unconstitutional’: Supreme Court rebuffs Marcos’ postponement of barangay polls
What happens

The decision, however, came six months after the elections were originally scheduled to be conducted.

The Supreme Court said despite its unconstitutionality, the October 30, 2023 polls should push through “due to legal practicality and necessity.”

Because of this, the previous law that governed the barangay elections – RA 11462 – shall be revived.

This also means that the term of office of sitting barangay and SK officials already lapsed on December 31, 2022.

“In the interim, the sitting barangay and SK officials shall continue to hold office until their successors shall have been elected and qualified. This notwithstanding, the Court clarified that the continued discharge of functions by the sitting BSK officials in a ‘hold-over’ capacity, following the provisions of RA 11935, shall in no way constitute as an unconstitutional ‘legislative appointment,'” the High Court said.

It added that after October 2023, the next barangay polls shall be conducted in December 2025, and every three years thereafter, unless Congress amends RA 9164, the law which provides for synchronized BSKE.

Setting criteria

The Supreme Court then enumerated criteria that would warrant the postponement of the barangay polls, saying that “the constitutional issue raised under the circumstances surrounding this case is capable of repetition yet evading review.”

It said that a postponement must be justified by compelling reasons, which means it would guarantee a free, honest, orderly, and safe election, and it would safeguard the electorate’s right of suffrage and other fundamental rights, among others.

Public emergency may also be considered a substantial reason for delaying the polls, but the Court added: “Reasons such as election fatigue, purported resulting divisiveness, shortness of existing term, and/or other superficial or farcical reasons, alone, may not serve as important, substantial, or compelling reasons to justify the postponement of elections.”

That appears to be in reference to House and Senate bills which argued that the polls should be postponed to allow the country to heal following a “divisive” 2022 elections, which elected Marcos Jr.

The Supreme Court also noted that a postponement must guarantee that the elections will still be held at regular periodic intervals, and that it must not violate the Constitution nor existing laws.


Comelec Chairman George Garcia, in a statement, said the poll body is unaffected by the ruling.

“Nothing will change in our preparations. The decision is more addressed to the political departments of our government for future guidance,” he said.

The first petition challenging the constitutionality of the postponement was filed by Romulo Macalintal, a luminary in Philippine election law.

The Supreme Court decision was penned by Associate Justice Antonio Kho, a former Comelec commissioner.

A full copy of the ruling has yet to be released by the High Court. –

1 comment

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  1. ET

    I hope that Rappler will post the full copy of this Ruling of the Supreme Court so that we can fully understand the reasoning behind it and perhaps get an idea of the “political influences and pressures” causing the passage of R.A. 11935, if any. Secondly, I deeply appreciate the effort of Atty. “Romulo Macalintal, a luminary in Philippine election law,” and the other petitioners, too. Without them, R.A. 11935 would have remained “constitutional” in the mind of the Filipino People.

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.