The Commission on Elections would need at least an additional P5 billion if the 2022 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections are postponed to next year, the country's poll chief said Thursday.
Comelec Chairman George Garcia said the P8.4 billion budget for the 2022 elections will no longer be enough if Congress decides to postpone the elections. Postponing the elections would mean additional expenses to register more voters, produce more ballots, and procure more equipment.
"If the polls are postponed, kakapusin na kami sa inisyal na binigay. Yun pong nakalaan sa amin ay para lang sa December 2022. Kapag tayo ay nagpaliban ng eleksyon, magkakaroon tayo ng continuing registration," he said in a TeleRadyo interview.
He said the continuing registration will bring in young people who are now of voting age as well as former voters who had failed to vote in previous elections.
"The more voters you have, the more you register means you will need more equipment...That means we will need more teachers who will serve as poll workers on Election Day," he said.
The Comelec chief said government would need an additional P5 billion if a proposal to increase honoraria to teachers who serve as poll workers would be granted. The P5 billion estimate could go even higher if the elections are postponed to December 2023, he said.
A House panel voted Tuesday to postpone the Dec. 5, 2022 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) for a year. The panel picked the first Monday of December 2023 as the new date for the BSKE. It also voted to include in the bill that the winners of the 2023 BSKE shall begin their terms on Jan. 1, 2024, for a period of 3 years.
The last barangay and SK elections were held in 2018.
The supposed May 2020 election for barangay leaders and youth councils was moved to Dec. 5 this year through a law.
In the interview, Garcia said Comelec is ready to push through with the elections at anytime but urged lawmakers to make a decision soon.
"We need a decision before the end of August because we start printing ballots by September to middle of October," he said.
He added that aside from the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, the Comelec is also preparing for the conduct of 18 plebiscites including a plebiscite to split Maguindanao province into two.