MANILA — A lawmaker on Friday opposed the proposed postponement of the scheduled barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on Dec. 5.
According to Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman, there is no credible reason to delay the electoral exercise for another year.
Proponents have claimed the postponement would save the government up to P8 billion, which could be realigned to finance the country's continuing pandemic response and economic recovery.
But Lagman dismissed this as "not constitutionally feasible".
"The Constitution grants the Comelec (Commission on Elections) fiscal autonomy. In other words, what is released to the Comelec cannot be countermanded by the executive. So, no savings can be used by the government for other purposes," he said.
The remaining unused funds will constitute a continuing appropriation under the sole jurisdiction of the poll body.
"So, the reason doesn't exist legally and it cannot be enforced constitutionally," he added.
Delaying the village and youth elections will also become costly for the government due to the registration of more voters and procurement of more equipment, Lagman said.
"It does not make sense because any postponement will result to a very expensive exercise next year," he said. "No less than the Comelec estimated that P18.3 billion would be needed including what was saved of about P7.5 billion."
Such funds could be used instead for the construction of a new Comelec building "for the safety of all records and for the efficient operations of its offices," he added.
Lagman also rejected claims of supposed "election fatigue" following May's general elections.
"The Comelec told Congress it is ready [and] it has been preparing for the village and youth elections," he said.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on second reading House Bill 4673, postponing the December 2022 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections by a year.
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.