House approves barangay, SK polls postponement on final reading

The House of Representatives has approved a bill postponing this year’s barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on the third and final reading.

House Bill 4673, or the postponement of the barangay and SK elections on 5 December 2022, received 264 affirmatives, six negatives, and three abstentions on its third and final reading on Tuesday via nominal vote.

If enacted into law, the said elections would be rescheduled to the first Monday of December 2023.

Consolidated by 43 different bills, the approved HB 4673 was promptly sent to the Senate.

The bill intends to postpone the 5 December 2022 synchronized barangay and SK elections to the first Monday of December next year to allow the Commission on Elections and local government units to prepare for it properly and the government to make corrective changes to poll workers’ honoraria.

Comelec chairperson George Garcia earlier informed lawmakers during a committee hearing that the government would incur additional costs due to the postponement since it would force the poll body to reopen voter registration for new voters for the barangay and youth council elections.

“If we postpone it to March or December 2023, we will have to continue registration of new voters. This will mean additional voters, additional ballots (to be printed), additional teachers (to serve as poll workers), additional precincts, additional election paraphernalia (to buy),” Garcia stressed.

“It will entail additional cost. If we factor the increase in honoraria expense for our teachers, it would be an additional P5 billion,” he said.

Members of the Makabayan bloc all voted “no” to the measure.

Assistant Minority Leader Arlene Brosas of Gabriela party-list group said the barangay and SK polls postponement “subverts the constitutional provision on the regular conduct of local elections and the people’s right to elect a new set of local leaders.”

She added that the elections had been repeatedly delayed since 2016.

Meanwhile, Kabataan Rep. Raoul Manuel echoed Brosas’ stance that postponing the election again is a denial of every Filipino’s democratic right to choose their leaders, particularly at the barangay level where the government is directly felt.

Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, however, said the postponement is unjustifiable and there is no such thing as election fatigue.

The bill was supposed to be passed on the third and final reading Monday, but it was postponed after Albay Representative Edcel Lagman questioned the House’s physical quorum.

Lagman was among the six who voted against the poll postponement.

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