The Commission on Elections (Comelec) starts today the printing of official ballots for the December 2022 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE).
This developed as Senator Imee Marcos said she is in favor of extending the term of office of barangay officials and Sangguniang Kabataan members from three years to six.
Comelec chair George Garcia said the printing job was supposed to be finished come October 20, pending decision by Congress to postpone the political exercise.
Comelec spokesman John Rex Laudiangco said earlier that the materials that are supposed to be used for the 2022 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections would not be wasted because they could still be useful in future elections.
A Senate bill seeking to reset the BSKE to the second Monday of December 2023 got a sponsorship in the chamber on Wednesday.
The House of Representatives, on the other hand, approved on second reading last Tuesday a counterpart measure also seeking BSKE postponement for one year.
But Garcia has repeatedly pointed out that the Comelec would need a bigger budget if the BSKE will be delayed anew, saying that the poll body’s proposed 2023 budget did not include a funding for the extra expenses resulting from the deferment.
He said the Comelec would need P10 billion if the BSKE were postponed to May 2023, or P17 billion if it will be in December 2023.
In addition, Garcia said that the bulk of Comelec expenses for the 2022 BSKE is allotted for the training of the teachers, roughly amounting to P300 million.
“Ang isa sa pinakamalaki o bulk ng gastos ay ‘yung mismong pagte-train ng mga guro… Aabutin, sa aming estima, ng P300 milyon ang gagastusin sa buong Pilipinas kaya hindi muna namin ginagawa,” he said.
Garcia also said the training of poll workers and the electoral board should be held by the second or third week of November this year.
He expects both houses of Congress to immediately make known their decision on the postponement proposal.
Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on electoral reforms and people’s participation, said that she also favors the postponement of the December 2022 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) to May 2023, or one year after the latest national elections.
From then, she proposed, barangay and SK officials would serve for six years, citing poll budget concerns.
“Postponement after postponement of the barangay and SK polls made me think that there must a problem with the terms of the barangay officials. I think three years is a bit too short,” Marcos said.
In reality, Marcos said, they were serving almost five years because we keep on postponing the elections, and we know all know that their job is difficult, working 24/7 monitoring government programs and projects.
Marcos filed last month Senate Bill 1195 seeking to amend Republic Act No. 7160 or The Local Government Code Of 1991, saying t there was a need to extend the tenure of barangay and SK officials to six years “to ensure continuity and stability” of their plans and programs.
Marcos said that her brother, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., was inclined to postpone the 2022 BSKE.
However, she said the proposed deferral has to be reviewed due funding considerations. This came after Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos got information from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that around P18 billion would be needed if the 2022 BSKE will be postponed.
“Tinatanong ko, ang sabi niya (President Marcos) ipo-postpone, napangako niya raw sa mga barangay. Sabi ko walang problema ‘yun kasi kaibigan naman natin ang mga barangay, pwede natin talagang i-postpone, so ipo-postpone,” she said.
“Noong nalaman nina Secretary Abalos na P18 billion ang hinihingi ni Chairman Garcia, medyo nasindak sila. So, tignan natin kung ano ang final decision pati ‘yung date sa December,” she added.