I cast a negative vote on the postponement of the barangay and SK elections scheduled on December 5, 2022 and their resetting to the first Monday of December 2023 for the following overiding grounds:
- The reason invariably invoked by the authors of the postponement 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 is not legally feasible and is utterly unconstitutional because the COMELEC enjoys fiscal autonomy, which does not allow any appropriations released to the COMELEC to 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 is not suffering from electoral fatigue. It has repeatedly stressed 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.
- The over-staying village officials need a fresh mandate and those ineffective must be changed. The over-aged youth officials who have long exceeded the age limit must give way to young blood.
- The mandate of the Constitution for Congress to fix the term of office of barangay officials is not continuing in perpetuity. This mandate had already been discharged by the Congress when it enacted the synchronization of barangay and SK elections under R.A. No. 9164. The term of office of barangay officials has been fixed by law for three years and for them to serve for not more than three consecutive terms.
The practice of the Congress in postponing repeatedly the barangay and SK elections effectively extend the term and tenure of the village and youth officials as if the constitutional mandate for Congress to fix the term of office of barangay officials is continuing, which it is not.
For the foregoing reasons, I vote “No”.
By: Rep. Edcel C. Lagman
September 19, 2022