Cebu Comelec welcomes deferment of brgy. polls

A LOCAL poll official welcomed the signing of Republic Act (RA) 11462 postponing the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) to Dec. 5, 2022 instead of May 2020, its original schedule.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Cebu Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano said the new law signed by President Duterte on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 will give village officials more time to implement their projects as barangay and SK officials elected in May 2018 will be in power for five years instead of just two.

RA 11462 directs incumbent village and youth officials to stay in office until their successors have been duly elected.

The barangay and SK officials who will be elected in December 2022 will assume office on Jan. 1, 2023.

“Our first advantage would be for our barangay officials to have longer terms because before the elections were postponed, they only had around two years to serve. There was not enough time for them to implement their plans and projects,” Castillano said in a mix of English and Cebuano.

“Also, the government has the whole next year to implement its programs without thinking about politics. Usually, as the elections draw near, projects become centered on election purposes. Hopefully next year, we would be able to see projects that are really for the people,” he added.

This is the third time that the barangay and SK elections have been postponed under the Duterte administration.

Before the May 2018 elections, the BSKE had been postponed twice—the first time from October 2016 to October 2017, and then from October 2017 to May 2018.

For the local Comelec office, the deferment of the barangay polls means more time to consolidate Cebu’s ever increasing number of voters in preparation for the 2022 national and local elections.

“Cebu is always increasing its voter population. We must remember that even our youth population is growing. Also, people from other provinces are migrating to Cebu for job opportunities,” Castillano said.

The postponement of the BSKE will give Comelec officials more time to conduct voter’s registration which is set to start sometime between January and February 2020.

With the new BSKE schedule, there will be two elections in 2022: the presidential elections in May and the synchronized barangay and SK elections in December.

Castillano said Comelec plans to conduct seminars that will teach young voters the importance of exercising their right of suffrage.

The Comelec en banc may also decide to procure a new kind of machine that would render a “more transparent performance” in the BSKE, he added.

The malfunctioning of voter registration verification machines (VRVMs) and defective vote counting machines (VCMs) were just some of the problems encountered in Cebu City and some parts of the province during the midterm elections on May 13, 2019.

Comelec used Cebu as a pilot area to introduce the VRVM, which uses biometrics to identify voters.

Under RA 11462, subsequent village and youth council polls will be held on the first Monday of December 2025 and every three years thereafter. Malacañang has yet to release a copy of the newly signed law.

The measure postponing the barangay and SK elections was one of the priority measures that Duterte enumerated during his State of the Nation Address on July 22, 2019. (FMD, SunStar Philippines)