Conduct of 2022 barangay, SK polls still uncertain

Published July 7, 2022, 10:03 AM

by Chito Chavez

The conduct of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections set on Dec. 5 this year appears to be still in limbo.

This, after Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benhur Abalos gave no categorical answer if the said polls will proceed as scheduled or not.

He admitted having submitted recommendations to President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. without confirming if he preferred the elections to go on the said date or not.

Abalos also did not provide information on what his recommendations to the President were concerning the elections.

“If you would ask me about barangay elections, if it is going to be postponed or not, we’ve already made some recommendations here to the President. Let’s just wait for his announcement,’’ Abalos said earlier.

The Oct. 2016 barangay and SK elections were postponed several times.

The possibility of the postponement of the BSKE drew mixed reactions with some favoring it while those rejecting the move insisted that this will only give the rogue officials and personnel more opportunities to use the barangays as their milking cows.

The people opposing the elections pointed to the anomalous transactions in the social amelioration program (SAP) wherein several barangay officials were charged before the Office of the Ombudsman and local courts.

The DILG has filed cases against more than 100 barangay captains and their cohorts for their alleged involvement in SAP-related irregularities with 89 barangay captains suspended while the charges have yeto to be resolved.

In May, Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez stated that more than P8 billion worth of savings could be generated if the barangay elections scheduled this year would be postponed saying that the amount could instead be used for the Covid-19 related response programs.

On June 25, Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez said they are “studying thoroughly the plus and the minuses of spending or calling for elections, and there is nothing definite yet.”

He noted that Marcos is looking at the possibility of passing a law giving barangay officials a five-year term of office.

On the contrary, the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) and its supporters earlier launched a petition calling for the next Congress not to postpone the scheduled Barangay and SK Elections.

“We amplify our call to the next Congress not to postpone the Dec. 5, 2022 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (“BSKE”) amidst news that some incoming House of Representatives members are looking at the postponement of the BSKE to save funds for the country’s pandemic response,’’ LENTE said.

“Republic Act (RA) 11462 mandated that synchronized Barangay and SK elections should be held every first Monday of December and every three years. But in the past, BSKE are often delayed, and officials end up holding office for up to five years. This delay contravenes the standard of periodic elections as provided in Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Although the pandemic response should be a top priority, this endeavor should not have collided with the citizen’s basic right to elect Barangay and SK Leaders,’’ it added. (Chito A. Chavez)