Manila -- President Benigno C. Aquino III is expected to put an end to speculations gripping barangay officials nationwide when he speaks before the Liga ng mga Barangay convention in Manila Friday.
Along with Vice President C. Jejomar Binay, Aquino will announce whether the barangay and the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections would push through this October.
Measures seeking the postponement of the October 12 elections are pending in Congress. This has not, however, deterred the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to push through with the voter's registration.
Thousands of barangay officials attending the Liga ng mga Barangay convention are anxious to hear what the President would say.
"This announcement is vital in today's convention. At least, we will know straight from the President himself whether the election would push through so that we can prepare or move on and go about the business of government in our respective barangays," said Barangay Tablon Chairman Romeo Bacarro, among the delegates from Cagayan de Oro.
In random interviews, Manila-based barangay chairmen expressed confidence the elections will be postponed, noting that a good number of lawmakers support the move.
"I've been talking to our colleagues in various places and they say there is 80 percent chance for the elections' postponement," said Aaron M. Neri, president of the Association of Barangay Councils in Cagayan de Oro.
"The common reason given is that the Congress overwhelmingly supports the deferral," Neri said. The consensus in Congress, however, meant nothing without Aquino's support, he added.
Neri said another good reason to postpone the elections because of tight budget.
"There were many occasions the elections were postponed due to budget constraints in the annual budget. Personally, I think there is 60 percent chance for the elections to be postponed," he said.
Aquino said in his first State of the Nation Address that national budget for this year has nearly been depleted.
Neri noted that the same reason was cited in the previous postponement of elections.
The same ground was invoked Senator Miguel Zubiri and Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus B. Rodriguez (second district) when they filed the bills seeking the deferral of the elections.
Two weeks ago, Cagayan de Oro Mayor Vicente Y. Emano appealed to Vice President Binay for the extension.
Meanwhile, Comelec Misamis Oriental Supervisor Carlito L. Ravelo said the registration for the SK and barangay polls will be held on August 6 to 15 and August 4 to 13, respectively.
"Comelec will move with the registration unless a law is passed to suspend the elections," Ravelo said.
This is the third time that the date of the registration has been changed. Last June, the poll body set the joint registration of the barangay and SK polls from July 1 to 31.
A week later, the Comelec reset the registration date for the SK polls was from July 15 until July 25 while registration for the barangay polls is tentatively set on August 1 to 10.
Eligible to register in the barangay polls, Ravelo said are Filipino citizens, at least 18 years old and a barangay resident for six months. SK voters must be Filipino citizens, at least 15 but below 18 years old and is a barangay resident where they intend to vote for six months.
"Registration will be conducted only at the Comelec office because satellite registration is not allowed," Ravelo said.
Would-be voters may register even on weekends. Applicants must present any of the following documents when they register: certificate of live birth, baptismal certificate, school records or any other document that will establish their identity and other qualifications.
Ravelo said the Community Tax Certificates or cedula and certification from the barangay will not be honored. (Jaime Joshua Frias and Annabel L. Ricalde)