Oliver 9 0 0 6 min to read

Before the SC, a lawyer’s poll concerns BSKE reset.

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The law delaying the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections from December of this year to October 2023 was challenged before the Supreme Court (SC) by an election attorney.

Romulo Macalintal requested that the high tribunal rule Republic Act (RA) No. 11935 unconstitutional and ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to hold the elections on December 5 in his plea, which was submitted on Monday.

The Comelec has sole authority to postpone elections and extend the terms of office of village officials, according to Macalintal, who claimed that the constitution does not grant Congress the authority to do either. The Comelec has this authority “after it has determined that serious causes warrant such postponement.”

He claimed in his petition that RA 11935 violated the rule that officials’ terms shouldn’t be longer than those of their superiors by extending the terms of barangay (village) officials.

The law, approved on October 10 by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., established the BSKE for the last Monday of October 2023 and every three years after that.

According to Macalintal, retroactively modifying village officials’ length of office would “unduly constrain the ability of the people to pick their leaders through popular ballots.”

The law in question, he said, “violates the fundamental provision that the state shall ensure equal access to chances for public service,” and the postponement “is a cunning approach to stretch governance without the mandate of the people.”

Regarding the Sangguniang Kabataan, Macalintal does not contest the terms of the legislation since “SK membership is merely a statutory right bestowed by law and that Congress may amend the law at any time to change or even eliminate the statutory right.”

George Garcia, the chair of the Comelec, declared they would always follow the law after it was signed.

The Comelec is merely the administering arm of the government, which means that we administer the election and carry out the decisions of the political departments, he said in an interview. “As far as the Comelec is concerned, this (the postponement) is a political decision. We reserve this to the wisdom of our executive and legislative.”

Free to inquire

The Comelec well received the Macalintal appeal.

According to Garcia, the High Court’s ruling will determine if future elections are postponed or moved.

“This case will now serve as our foundation if there is a postponement or reset of the election in the future, Garcia said. “What, Atty. (Romulo) Macalintal done is a good development,” Garcia said.

Garcia pointed out that the outcome of the Macalintal petition will also determine whether or not Congress has the authority to relocate or postpone election processes.

It’s time for an interpretation of the Constitution, adding that it’s good that there is one. “Does Congress have the ability to postpone elections? Number 2, does the postponement purposefully include the Barangay and SK, or is it only restricted to other positions? It’s high time,” he asked.

The “Comelec will always adhere to the law and the wisdom of the highest court of the land,” according to spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco.

They are preparing to have elections in December, he continued.

As we have previously stated, should the Supreme Court rule against RA No. 11935, the Comelec will be prepared to conduct the elections in December 2022 by RA No. 11462 [the BKSKE law] or hold the BSKE in October 2023 by the latter, true to our word as we work diligently to fulfill our constitutional mandate faithfully.

not against the law

Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Francis Escudero, and Imee Marcos said in separate comments that Congress must approve the postponement because it is not the first time one has occurred.

Initially moved to October 2017, then to May 2018, the October 2016 BSKE.

The BSKE that will follow in May 2020 has been moved to December 5 this year.

According to Marcos, the authority to set the terms of barangay officials is given to Congress by the constitution.

According to Escudero, the SC had decided in favor of a case with a similar issue.

Before RA 11935, the BSKE postponement, according to Estrada, occurred under various administrations.

“Everyone has an equal voice in a democratic society, especially regarding how the law is applied. “The petition before the Supreme Court demonstrates that democracy is in place in our nation,” he remarked.

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