House approves on final reading BSKE postponement

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THE House of Representatives approved on third and final reading on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, a measure seeking the postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE).

With 264 affirmative, six negative and three abstention votes, the House approved House Bill (HB) 4637, or the act postponing the synchronized BSKE from Dec. 5, 2022 to Dec. 4, 2023.

Subsequent barangay and SK polls shall be held on the first Monday of December 2026 and every three years thereafter.

“Today’s approval of the measure affirms the House’s resolve to approve HB 4673 by Oct. 1, 2022 and have it signed by President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. before the scheduled Dec. 5, 2022 barangay and SK elections,” the House said.

Under the bill, incumbent officials will have an extended term pending the conduct of the election.

Officials who will be elected in the polls will assume office on Jan. 1, 2024.

The measure is a consolidation of 38 bills filed at the lower chamber.

Postponement welcomed

Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan welcomed the decision of House lawmakers to suspend the BSKE.

Chan told SunStar Cebu that he is in favor of the move to help save government funds.

The mayor also suggested extending the current three-year term of barangay captains.

“Mas maayo gyud siya og kanang five years unya two terms. At least, taas-taas sila og mahimo sa ilang barangay,” said Chan.

(It’s better if each term is five years and then two terms. At least, they can implement more programs during their stints.)

Before becoming mayor, Chan had served as barangay captain of Pajo in the same city for two terms.

Separately, Cebu City Councilor and Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) President Franklyn Ong also welcomed the House’s decision.

In a statement sent to SunStar Cebu on Tuesday, Sept. 20, Ong said the postponement of the BSKE would give incumbent village officials a chance to complete their pending projects which were delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We should remember that from 2020-2021, our barangay officials were really busy in tackling the Covid-19 crisis in their areas,” Ong said in a mix of English and Cebuano.

Lawmakers argued that the P8 billion budget allocated for the holding of the election can instead be used for the country’s prevailing pandemic response.

Commission on Elections Commissioner George Garcia earlier warned that moving the election to a later date would mean additional costs of around P5 billion. (TPM / SunStar Philippines, IRT / PAC)