Rep. Edcel C. Lagman opposed the postponement of the barangay and SK elections scheduled on December 5, 2022 to the first Monday of December 2023 for the following overring grounds:
The reason invariably invoked by the authors of the postponement is that the savings of P7 to 8-B, if the elections are postponed, can be realigned to finance the pandemic response and the stimulus package for economic recovery.
The aforesaid reason is utterly unconstitutional because the COMELEC enjoys fiscal autonomy which includes a prohibition that any appropriations released to the COMELEC cannot be countermanded by the Executive and utilized for other purposes. The remaining unused funds will constitute a continuing appropriation under the sole jurisdiction of the COMELEC.
The proffered reason that the COMELEC needs a respite after conducting the May 2022 national and local elections does not obtain because the COMELEC itself has repeatedly said that it is ready to conduct the December 2022 village and youth elections.
No less than COMELEC Chairman George Garcia relayed to legislators that a postponement of the barangay elections to December 2023 will be a costly exercise because additional funds would be needed to the tune of P18.358-B constituting the P7.5-B savings as continuing appropriation and an additional budget of P10.858-B.
Elections are the bedrock of democratic governments. Democracy at the grassroots must be assured by holding regular elections for barangay and SK officials and should not be imperiled by repeated postponements of grassroots elections.
EDCEL C. LAGMAN