Congress on Wednesday ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the bill postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections, originally slated for December this year, to October 2023.
With the House of Representatives and the Senate ratifying the bicameral report, the measure would be sent to Malacañang for President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to sign into law.
Earlier, the respective bicameral conference panels of the House and the Senate met to harmonize the disagreeing provisions of House Bill (HB) 4673 and Senate Bill (SB) 1306, which both sought the postponement of the barangay and SK elections.
The version of the bill approved by the House set the next barangay and SK elections on the first Monday of December 2023 while the Senate version slated it for the second Monday of December 2023.
Instead of holding the elections on December 2023, the bicameral conference committee reached a consensus to reschedule the barangay and SK polls two months earlier, or on October 2023.
The harmonized version of the bill provides that “there shall be a synchronized barangay and sangguniang kabataan elections, which shall be held on the last Monday of October 2023 and every three years thereafter.”
The term of office of officials elected in the 2023 barangay and SK elections shall commence at noon of November 30 next following their election.
As a necessary consequence of the postponement, the measure contained a hold-over provision.
it stated that “until their successors shall have been duly elected and qualified, all incumbent barangay and SK official shall remain in office unless sooner removed or suspended for cause.”
Likewise, such officials serving as ex officio members of the sangguniang bayan, sangguniang panglungsod, or sangguniang panlalawigan shall continue to serve in such capacity until the next barangay and SK elections, unless removed in accordance with existing rules or for cause.
Funds necessary for the implementation of the law postponing the barangay and SK elections shall be taken from the appropriations of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) or supplementary appropriations that Congress may subsequently approve.
Lawmakers had called for the postponement of the barangay and SK elections for various reasons, including the use of the P8.4-billion allocation for the polls to address the problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic and to give the country time to heal after the divisive 2022 national elections, among others.
Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel, however, said he was baffled with the new date.
But Senator JV Ejercito, who pitched in for Sen. Imee Marcos, the sponsor of the measure, noted there were already precedents in holding these elections in October—on October 29, 2007; October 25, 2010 and October 28, 2013.
Ejercito said the new date is more practical as the youth can vote due to the semestral break.
He added the last Monday of October is near Undas so that people go home to their respective provinces.