THE House of Representatives committee on suffrage and electoral reforms approved on first reading Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, measures that seek to postpone the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) scheduled on Dec. 5, 2022.

Voting 12-2, the House panel agreed to postpone the BSKE to Dec. 4, 2023 despite a warning from Comelec Commissioner George Garcia that moving it to a later date will mean additional costs.

Appearing during the committee hearing on Tuesday, Garcia said the Comelec will have to resume voter registration in October this year if the BSKE is postponed.

Garcia said if the election is postponed, the government will need another P5 billion on top of its current P8.449 billion budget.

“If we are going to postpone the elections and increase the honorarium of poll watchers, on the assumption that Congress will be kind enough to increase the honorarium, plus the expenses for the continuing voter registration and such other additional expenses, we need another P5 billion,” Garcia said.

Garcia said while the Comelec will just abide by the mandate of Congress and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., he appealed not to hold it in 2024 as the poll body will then be busy preparing for the 2025 national polls.

Att least 38 bills have been filed in Congress seeking the postponement of the BSKE. Among the reasons cited were the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Congress’ decision

Meanwhile, League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) President Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said on behalf of the league, he discussed the BSKE with Marcos who told him that the decision should be left to Congress.

“We assured the President that the league will never be a stumbling block to the wishes and desires of this administration,” said Rama.

City mayors from all over the country gathered in Cebu City on Tuesday, Aug. 16, for the start of a three-day convention to exchange best practices and discuss issues concerning local governance. Rama said the meeting will highlight a talk on human resources in government and messages from various businessmen about the relationships between local government units (LGUs) and private corporations.

Best practices

Among the chief executives who shared their city’s best practices is Baguio City Mayor and LCP secretary general Benjamin Magalong.

Magalong said Baguio is now being benchmarked by other LGUs because of its master plan to become a “smart city” by 2025.

Magalong also talked about the City’s use of digital payment which improved many City Hall transactions and lessened the hassle of their constituents.

Taguig City Mayor Maria Laarni Cayetano shared that their city has the most comprehensive scholarship programs by providing free education and allowances.

Cayetano said Taguig is putting a premium on human resources in government by giving scholarships to constituents who want to take the civil service exam.

For Cebu City, Rama said one of the best practices that they can share is the City’s venture towards private-public partnerships for projects.

Rama said this is evident with the completion of the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway.