House approves postponing barangay, SK polls to December 2023
A measure that seeks to postpone the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to December 2023 was approved by the House of Representatives on third and final reading on Tuesday.
House Bill (HB) No. 4673 aims to defer the polls from December 5, 2022 to December 4, 2023.
Under the bill, barangay and SK elections are to be conducted on the first Monday of December 2026 and afterward will be held every three years.
The bill also provides that the incumbent officials remain in their office until their successors are elected “unless sooner suspended or removed for a cause”.
It was approved after gaining 264 affirmative votes, six negative votes and three abstain votes.
The bill's authors said that if barangay and SK elections are delayed, savings of up to P8 billion could be used to fund the COVID-19 pandemic response and a stimulus package for economic recovery.
Lawmakers who voted against the bill include Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and members of the Makabayan bloc such as Gabriela Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raoul Manuel, and ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro.
Lagman said using savings of the Commission on Election (Comelec) from the delayed polls was “unconstitutional” because they have fiscal autonomy.
Repeatedly postponing the polls also “ effectively extends the term and tenure of village and youth officials”, he added.
Castro said it was “unjustifiable” and rejected claims there is no such thing as “election fatigue”.
Brosas said if the government really wanted to save, they should impose a tax on the top 20 wealthiest Filipinos instead of postponing the elections.
Manuel said rescheduling the polls would deny people's democratic right to vote. Jaspearl Tan/DMS