UNLESS an amendatory law is passed to postpone the polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will continue its preparations for the May 2020 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.
So said Cebu provincial election officer Ferdinand Gujilde after President Rodrigo Duterte asked Congress to postpone the next village and youth elections to October 2022.
"Preparations will continue on the part of the Comelec despite the pronouncement of the President. It remains uncertain on whether they will postpone it or not since it is an act of Congress. Although, if the President requested them, it will certainly have a persuasive effect, especially that the supermajority of the Congress, as how they call it, is in favor of the President," Gujilde said.
In his fourth State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 22, Duterte said postponing the barangay and SK polls will address “truncated” terms of the incumbent barangay officials.
The barangay and youth elections have been postponed twice. From October 2016, it was moved to October 2017, then to May 2018 through Republic Act (RA) 10952.
Section 1 of RA 10952 provides that subsequent synchronized barangay and SK elections shall be held on the second Monday of May 2020 and every three years thereafter.
On July 1, Rep. Faustino Dy V (Isabela, 6th) has filed House Bill 47, which provides for the postponement of the May 2020 polls to May 2023.
The proposed measure is an offshoot of the calls from members of the Liga ng mga Barangay to be granted “a fixed term that will give them enough time to implement and promote long-term programs and advocacies without interruption and political interference.”
"Chances are, they may reset it. However, the Comelec, unless there is an amendatory law that says they will reset it, we will continue with our preparations like it will push through on May 2020. By August 1, we will start with our voter registration," Gujilde said.
For his part, Liga ng mga Barangay Cebu chapter president Celestino "Tining" Martinez III welcomed Duterte's pronouncement.
"The president is someone who is very familiar with how things are at the barangay level since he served as a local chief executive for quite some time. At present, a two-year term is definitely too short and is not enough time for the barangay officials to provide any significant programs and projects. The move to extend is reasonable," he said.
Martinez also expressed support for the President's call to enact the Magna Carta for Barangays, which aims to declare barangay officials as regular government officials to improve their delivery of services.
"Definitely it will good for barangay officials once it will be passed since majority of the barangay officials and volunteers receive so small, far below minimum in terms of salaries or wages and even benefits, especially those who belong to third class and below category municipalities, given that these barangay officials and volunteers are tasked to do so much," he continued.