MANILA - The House of Representatives has approved on 2nd reading a bill seeking the third postponement of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) scheduled on May 14.
The bill was sponsored despite pronouncements from the Senate expressing the upper chamber's coldness to another postponement. The BSKE was last held in 2013.
The bill was submitted by the House Suffrage Committee after a controversial committee hearing where opponents accused advocates of the bill of orchestrating a no-election scenario that could allow incumbent officials to extend their terms.
One of the bill's goals is to have the BSKE to coincide with a planned plebiscite on a new constitution.
The approval came after a closed-door caucus by all congressmen before the 4 p.m. plenary session.
Kabataan party-list in a statement said, "The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) itself has already admitted that it is an 'all systems go' for the May 2018 barangay and SK elections. Given this, there is absolutely no valid reason for Congress right now to postpone it for the third time. To base the postponement on a speculative plebiscite is for Congress to pass a law resulting in the waste of public funds, resources, and effort. This only exposed the supermajority's concerted and manipulative effort to impose charter change on the people by October 2018.
"The true intention for the postponement lies in the term extension provided for in the proposed new constitution, not in genuine concern to lessen the efforts of COMELEC and its personnel. For if the plebiscite is conducted simultaneous with the 2019 national elections or any time after that, then there is a likelihood that those currently in power would no longer be the incumbent officials who would benefit under the longer term limits," Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago said.
Under the proposals for the federal constitution, the incumbent members of the House of Representatives and Senate will hold their position until a Federal Assembly shall have been duly constituted an indefinite term extension for those who are already in power.
"In granting the postponement, Duterte and his cohorts are not only perpetrating the elite's and oligarch's interests, and wasting public funds. They are also depriving the people of their right to participate in the elections either as a voter or as a candidate. This time, three times is not a charm but a scam," Elago said.