MANILA — The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on second reading House Bill 4673, postponing the December 2022 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) by a year.
The bill and its committee report 33 were submitted to the plenary session for deliberations. The approval came in an ayes and nays vote.
According to its congressional fact sheet, the bill seeks to move the Dec. 5, 2022 synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to the first Monday of December 2023 to allow the Commission on Elections and local government units to better prepare and to apply corrective adjustments to the honoraria of poll workers.
The same fact sheet explains that the bill mandates that subsequent BSKE be held on the first Monday of December 2026 and every 3 years thereafter.
Under the bill, the term of office of the barangay and SK officials elected in December 2023 will start at noon of Jan. 1.
It also provides that all incumbent barangay and SK officials remain in office until their successors shall have been duly elected and qualified, unless sooner removed or suspended.
Finally, the bill provides that barangay and SK officials who are ex officio members of their respective Sangguniang Bayan, Sangguniang Panlungsod, or Sangguniang Panlalawigan shall continue to serve in these councils until the next barangay and SK elections.
The approval for the BSKE postponement came despite the last-minute attempt by Albay First District Rep. Edcel Lagman to stop the voting.
"I object because there are no sufficient warm bodies in the plenary for a very important second reading of a major legislative initiative. Many of our members are in the budget committee hearings and other exercises," he said.
The plenary session was then suspended to call legislators back into the session hall. Lagman withdrew his objection following the arrival of his colleagues.
The measure was sponsored for plenary deliberations by House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms chairman Mountain Province Rep. Maximo Dalog.
Dalog cited the filing of 43 House bills seeking the BSKE postponement as proof of clamor, along with expressions of support by different stakeholders.
Lagman was one of 2 interpellators, coming after Kabataan Rep. Raoul Manuel.
The bill will be ready for voting on final approval in 3 days.
“We need to pass this law ASAP because time is of the essence. The barangay and SK elections is just a few months away so we are hoping that we can approve this in the House on or before October 1," said House Majority Leader Manuel Jose "Mannix" Dalipe.
"Hopefully, the Senate will do the same so that we can have an approved measure in time for the President’s signature before the election period," he said in a statement.
The Comelec said it would need an additional P5 billion if the polls are postponed. It said there would be additional expenses to register more voters, produce more ballots, and procure more equipment.
Several watchdogs earlier said the BSKE should push through this year because it has long been delayed and would deprive voters of the right to choose local leaders.
The last barangay elections were held in May 2018.
The supposed May 2020 election for barangay leaders and youth councils was moved to Dec. 5 this year through a law.