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Comelec girds village, SK polls in May

THE Commission on Elections said Tuesday it will continue its preparations to hold the Village and Youth Council elections on May 14 despite the move by the House of Representatives to postpone it.

The House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms voted 14-2 in favor of the bill postponing the elections in an attempt to give way for the proposed shift to the federal system of government initiated by President Rodrigo Duterte.

 “The Comelec is taking this development in stride,” said Comelec spokesman James Arthur Jimenez.

“As with the previous postponements, the Comelec maintains that a law is needed to reschedule the BSKE [Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections] 2018.” 

In other developments:

• Three senators said Tuesday there was no more time for the senators to tackle the supposed postponement of the May 14 Sangguniang Kabataan and barangay elections as they also were not supporting it.

 “No time. No bill has been filed in the Senate postponing the barangay election,” Senate Minority Franklin Drilon said.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III also said there was no more time to discuss the postponement. He said Congress had barely a week left to conduct hearings and approve it before the break.

Senator Bam Aquino slammed the move to postpone the elections, saying it would further delay the people’s chance to select their new leaders.

• The Interior Department on Tuesday expressed hope that the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections would push through on May 14.

In a statement, Interior Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año said the elections would allow the public “to cleanse the ranks” of village officials.

• A youth group on Tuesday hit Congress for again postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

Juan Carlo Tejano, Akbayan Youth chairman, questioned the House committee on suffrage’s vote  postponing the elections.

According to Jimenez, the House Suffrage Committee vote, “as significant as it undoubtedly is, is merely the first step in the legislative process.” 

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said the postponement of the elections was unlikely to be approved in the Senate.

Jimenez said he would not be surprised if the House would be able to pass a law postponing the village elections for the third straight time. 

Meanwhile, Comelec employees expressed alarm over the series of election postponements since 2016.

“We, as election workers, cannot simply turn a blind eye to the chronic erosion of our democratic processes resulting from the frequent postponement of the election of leaders in the most basic unit of our society, the barangay,” the employees said in a statement.

They said government resources and the efforts of Comelec workers were being wasted because of the postponements. 

But some lawmakers say the postponement of the May 2018 exercise would be a “cost-saving” move.

President Duterte’s allies in Congress want to hold a plebiscite for the proposed new federal charter simultaneously with the May 2018 village and SK elections. But they find it more feasible to have it conducted in October of the same year.

Topics: Commission on Elections , Village and Youth Council , House of Representatives , House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms , President Rodrigo Duterte , James Arthur Jimenez
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