Barangay, SK polls postponement now nearly final

The likelihood of postponing the scheduled Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) on December 5 this year to December, 2023 is now nearly certain  after the House of Representatives  recently passed on final reading a measure seeking such postponement.

The bill, HB 4673 got 265 affirmative votes, six negative votes, and three abstentions. Under the measure, the subsequent synchronized BSKE was set on the first Monday of December 2026 and every three years thereafter.

Once enacted into law, incumbent barangay and SK officials will retain their positions on holdover capacity “unless sooner removed or suspended for cause.”

House Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe earlier said Speaker Martin Romualdez is supportive of the proposal because this would allow the Commission and Elections (Comelec) and the local government units to better prepare for clean and orderly barangay polls and provide the government ample time to apply corrective adjustments to the honoraria of poll workers.

Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Ralph Recto said the “astronomical price tag” of holding a national election has been the main driving argument in postponing barangay elections. He pointed out that the “bare-bones cost” of one stand-alone national election is P8.5 billion, which is the amount given to the Comelec to administer the Dec. 5, 2022 polls.

“This comes up to P126 per voter, 25 times the P5 spending limit that a kapitan wannabe may splurge on for every registered voter in his dominion,” he said, noting that holding elections is expensive due to the size of the electorate and the frequency of elections.

Recto said the budget for barangay elections could be used in the meantime for activities that will improve food security. “I think that is also what the people want today, that given a vote on where the P8.5 billion would be spent, they would choose, by a landslide, food that could feed their families, rather than a ballot they would feed on the counting machines,” he said.

He said the government could then focus on political and economic reforms, including a long-term strategy on how to make the conduct of elections more economical.