THE Senate of the Philippines approved on third and final reading a measure seeking to reschedule the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) from December 2022 to December 2023.

With 17 affirmative and two “no” votes, the Senate approved Senate Bill 1306, also known as “An Act Postponing the December 2022 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Elections,” which seeks to amend Republic Act 9164, as amended by Republic Act 9340, Republic Act 10632, Republic Act 10656, Republic Act 10923, Republic Act 10952, and Republic Act 11462.

The bill was sponsored by Committee on Electoral reforms and People’s Participation chairperson Senator Imee Marcos.

"The fact that the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections have been postponed relentlessly through decades merely underlies the unfinished business of deeper issues plaguing both the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan systems," Marcos said in her sponsorship speech.

"Thus, this proposed election postponement is a means to buy us time for a series of measures that the Committee on Electoral Reforms and People's Participation is proposing to Congress. This is merely a preliminary measure to give us time to study and debate the deeper issues confronting the barangay and SK systems under our present law," she added.

Under the bill, the BSKE will be held on the first Monday of December 2023, instead of December 2022.

Winning candidates during the December 2023 BSKE shall assume post at 12 noon of January 1, 2024.

The following BSKE shall be held on the second Monday of May 2026 and every three years thereafter.

The bill also ordered the Commission on Audit to submit before Congress an audit report on the budget used for the postponed December 5, 2022 BSKE within 90 days from its effectivity.

"A word of caution too, regarding the budget Comelec has requested for the postponement. Out of the P8.441 billion allotted for the December 2022 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, there should be a balance by month's end of roughly P7.583 billion,” said Marcos.

“Comelec claims, however, that they have somehow obligated or disbursed far more. And then they are requesting that should the elections be postponed to December 2023, the amount of PI8.441 billion should be provided in the 2023 budget. That is over 218 percent more than their budget this year. An amount which I think is unmerited,” she added.

Marcos sponsored the first measure passed by the 18th Congress postponing the BSKE from the second Monday of May 2020 to December 5, 2022 due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

In August 16, 2022, Marcos filed Senate Bill 1195, positing such an extension of term, and fixing the dates for BSKE.

The Senate counterpart, the House of Representatives, earlier passed on the third and final reading a counterpart bill that also seeks the postponement of BSKE. (SunStar Philippines)