Comelec chief wants SK polls in 2016

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 04 2013 11:41 PM | Updated as of Sep 05 2013 07:41 AM

MANILA - Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes objects to a 1-year postponement of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections, preferring instead the synchronization of the SK with the 2016 presidential elections.

This, amid bills in Congress seeking either the abolition or posptponement of the SK.

Brillantes said they are objecting to a one-year postponement.

"Kung next year, questionable sa amin iyun. Gagastos kami ng mas malaki kung next year. We would rather postpone and synchronize in 2016," he said.

Brillantes said they also prefer that the SK election be limited to the position of chairman only, since the kagawads do not have salaries.

They also prefer the proposal to abolish the SK and just make a youth representative in the barangay.

Brillantes explained that the cost of the barangay and SK elections was originally pegged at P3.4 billion, but they were only given an approved budget of P1.1 billion and the rest to be sourced from Comelec's savings.

He said funding for the barangay elections sapped the savings of the commission. They initially intended to use the savings for building an 11-storey headquarters.

Comelec currently rents buildings in Intramuros, Manila.

Brillantes said the proposed building will now have only 7 or 8 floors instead of the planned 11 floors.

As for the barangay elections, Brillantes says they are alreday prepared for it. "Ready na kami, kumpleto."

Brillantes said for so long as the SK polls are postponed by the 1st week of October, the Comelec will incur only expenses of P3-5 million mainly for the printing of election paraphernalia.

The bidding for the printing of election paraphernalia for the barangay elections is already finished. Printing should begin next week.

Brillantes said postponement of the SK elections will save the poll body P80-90 million, mainly for the payment of services of boards of election tellers -- the equivalent of the boards of election inspectors in regular elections.

He said he will talk to congressional leaders to reconcile the versions of the bills on the SK.

The synchronized SK and barangay elections is scheduled on the 4th Monday of October this year. There are 53.8 million registered voters for the baranggay elections and P3 million registered voters for the SK.

Meantime, Brillantes said the poll body has begun probing the possible campaign contributions of Janet Lim Napoles and allegedly bogus groups linked to her, in the 2010 and 2007 elections.

So far, no contributions in Napoles' name have been discovered to have been given to any candidate in the 2013 mid-term elections.

Brillantes said investigating the 2007 and 2010 campaign contributions may take one to two months.