Another lawmaker, this time from Mindanao, has joined the mounting calls to postpone the December 2022 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections.
Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman has filed a bill to reschedule the Dec. 5 village and SK elections to the second Monday of May 2024.
In his House Bill No. 3384, Hataman sought to amend RA 9164, as amended by so many other succeeding laws, to give way to
more urgent concerns that need government attention.
For one, Hataman cited how expensive it was to hold elections at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic continues to infect thousands in the country.
“Nasa gitna pa rin tayo ng rumaragasang pandemya, hindi pa balik normal ang lahat. Hindi natin sigurado kung ano ang kalagayan ilang buwan mula ngayon. Kaya ang aking panukala, ipagpaliban muna ito (We are still in the middle of soaring pandemic, not everything is back to normal. We are not sure what will be the condition a few months from now. That’s why my proposal is to postpone it),” he said in a statement accompanied by a copy of the bill sent to the media.
Hataman, former governor of the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), is the latest lawmaker who proposed the postponement.
Earlier, neophyte lawmakers Davao Oriental Rep. Cheeno Miguel Almario and Leyte Rep. Richard Gomez filed House Bill 1367 and House Bill 937, respectively, to reschedule the village and SK elections to a later date.
Justifying his stand, Hataman noted that more than 80 countries worldwide have decided to postpone their national and subnational elections due to the Covid-19.
In fact, he cited that the country’s May elections is considered the most expensive in Philippine history in an effort to have a “COVID-proof” elections.
“More than P1 billion was allocated for the purchase of items labeled as ‘COVID-19 supplies:’ face masks, alcohol, plastic acetates, and antigen tests for election officers who attended training,” Hataman said in the bill’s explanatory note.
He furthered explained once the bill is passed, the government will be able to generate savings of an estimated P8 billion, which he said “a significant amount for a cash-strapped government.”
“This representation believes that the budget could be realigned for economic stimulus and COVID-19 response programs for the benefit of the entire nation,” he added.
The measure also calls for a hold-over capacity of present elected barangay and SK officials to perform their capacities until their successors are elected in May 2024.