LENTE reiterates call to push through with Barangay, SK elections as scheduled

The Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) provided the following update on a August 23 senate committee hearing on the postponement of the scheduled Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (Young Council) elections in the Philippines. LENTE highlighted two major challenges that emerged from the hearing:

The Senate Committee on Electoral Reform and People's Participation holds a Public Hearing to discuss issues on the postponement of the December 2022 Barangay and SK Elections (BSKE).

The said hearing, held earlier this afternoon has mostly touched on budget increase. According to the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), the postponement will result in an escalation of BSKE-related finances from 8.449B to 17B if the same is to be administered in May 2022; or, 18B if moved to December 2023. This budget balloon contemplates a number of instances requiring more funds such as additional three (3) to five (5) million voters, creating of new precincts, procurement of new election paraphernalia, and increase of honorarium of electoral board members (EB).

Meanwhile, COMELEC assures its readiness in the event of Congress' disapproval of the postponement. Nonetheless, Sen. Imee Marcos and COMELEC have both emphasized that in case of approval, the ideal date for BSKE is May 2023. This is in line with various factors like summer break of voters, vacation, community occasions, among others, which would most likely lead to a higher voter turnout.

Overall, the hearing has accentuated two challenges that might arise from the BSKE postponement: (a) its major purpose to allocate budget to more important issue areas is undermined by the fact that more budget is necessary to account for the delay; and (b) the remaining budget for the supposed 2022 BSKE cannot be reallocated to other government agencies.

Thus, a few members of the Senate Committee have reminded policy-makers to weigh the advantages of anf the opportubity costs in pushing for the BSKE postponement.

First published on LENTE's Facebook Page on 23 August 2022.

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