MANILA -- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) welcomes the possibility of postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls to October 2011 but hopes that Congress would be able to pass the legislation in three weeks time.
“At least, mabigyan kami ng indication na mapostpone, kaya lang para kami, we will not go into necessary preparations and expenses pero kung nakabitin tayo at hindi namin alam na ippostpone yan, eh di tuloy parin preparations,” Comelec Chairman Jose Melo said in an ambush interview.
Poll officials met with members of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms Wednesday to discuss the possible deferment of the village, youth polls with 21 bills and two resolutions still pending in the committee.
All the pending bills will be consolidated into one to agree on the date of the conduct of elections if it will be postponed. The next committee hearing on Monday will tackle the consolidated bill.
Committee members also raised the possibility of realigning the funds left for the village polls to other projects if the postponement will push through.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) reported in the hearing that out of the 3.4 billion budget, 3.2 billion is still available to spent by the Comelec although the funds are released in a monthly basis.
Representative Gabriel Quisumbing (sixth district, Cebu), who earlier filed a bill seeking for the postponement of the elections, said the October polls will only worsen the destroyed alliances in the last May elections.
“Should the village polls push through this year, it will only further divide our nation,” he added.
Quisumbing wants the 3.2 billion funds to be used for social services like education and health care.
House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman said Congress should not be swayed by the position of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to push through with the village polls in October because the legislative body holds the power to amend the laws.
“It would be treason against the House or anyone who advocate that just because the President wants to push through with the election, we stop the legislation,” Lagman argued.
Sherwin Gatchalian, president of the League of Cities of the Philippines, and Rico Echiverri, president of the Liga ng mga Barangay, meanwhile, stated in the hearing that they also favor the postponement of the polls.
"Our league believes that whatever funds are available for the barangay polls could instead be used for government priority programs," Echiverri added, referring to the water shortage in Luzon, the recent electricity problems in Mindanao and the much-needed equipment upgrade of the country's weather bureau.
SK National President Jane Cajes appealed to congressmen not to push for the abolition of SK council as Aquino prefers. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)