Oliver Bugarin 1 0 0 5 min to read

Senate debate on the BSKE postponement measure has begun.

On Wednesday, lawmakers in the Upper Chamber, led by Senator Imee Marcos, voiced their support for the proposed Senate Bill No. (SBN) 1306, which would delay the December 2022 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE).

In her address under privilege, Marcos stated that the proposed measure aims to push back the BSKE to December 2023 due to problems affecting both the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan systems.

She stated that the delay would give the Senate time to research and examine the current laws to make the necessary corrections.

“Halos taun-taon na tayong nage-eleksyon, unang-una. First, we hold elections virtually every year to determine who will represent the barangay in the local government. To finish the work in a barangay in three years is incredibly short, come to think of it, “added she.

Every barangay election since 1989 has been delayed, according to Marcos, the chair of the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation. This has led to an actual extension of terms in barangays of an average of four to five years.

Thus, through her recently filed SBN 1195, the lawmaker is advocating for the extension of the terms of Barangay and SK officials to six years and the permanent fixation of their elections in May of the year following the presidential elections.

Marcos also recommended researching the Sangguniang Kabataan system, pointing out the viability of keeping the Pederasyon ng Sangguniang Kabataan only at the city and municipal levels.

“In my opinion, a single SK delegate in each barangay or municipal council should be considered instead of an SK federation. Perhaps only a full federation at the municipal or provincial level is necessary, with the SK federation being reorganized every three years or in the middle of a term to prevent the necessity for yet another election, “She spoke.

If the BSKE is ultimately postponed in December 2023, Marcos also emphasized the necessity to review the Commission on Elections (Comelec) proposal, which also requested the postponement and a more than 200 percent increase in its 2023 budget.

“Comelec demands that, should the elections be delayed until December 2023, PHP18.441 billion be included in the 2023 budget, notwithstanding their assertions that they had somehow committed to or spent significantly more. That is 218 percent more than they had planned to spend this year, which I find unfair, “Added her.

The number of clustered precincts would increase to 230,415 if the BSKE were moved to May 2023, according to chairperson George Garcia. He spoke at the joint organizational meeting between Marcos’ committee and the Comelec. This would require an estimated PHP17.093 billion in funding.

He added that there would be 239,000 clustered precincts with an estimated PHP18.441 billion in costs.

According to Garcia, the budget considers the rise in poll workers’ honoraria, whose number is also anticipated to rise if the BSKE is postponed.

Senators Francis Tolentino, Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla, Jr., Christopher Lawrence Go, and themselves became co-chairs of Marcos’ measure.

The proposal to move the BSKE to December 4, 2023, was approved by the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms on August 16.

Twelve people voted to support the postponement to preserve money that may be used to fund financial aid for the poor and other more critical projects.

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