It is almost definite that the coming Barangay (officials) and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on October will be postponed.
This developed as President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte backtracked from an earlier pronouncement supporting the holding of the scheduled elections as mandated by the law.
During the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City, the POTP insinuated that the election might be infiltrated with funds sourced from drugs.
Duterte pressed on telling the audience: “Do you know the reason why I also agreed with some congressmen to postpone the barangay elections? Do you know why? Because I am afraid that the drug money will seep into the electoral process.”
The President knows too well that holding the election will also mean some important government postions will be left vacant for sometime.
The Omnibus Election Code prohibits the POTP or any appointing officer from appointing new employee, creating new position, promoting an employee and granting salary hikes 45 days before a regular election and 30 days before a special election.
But wait, the Commission on Elections said that it will continue with the preparations for the 2016 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections despite proposals to postpone it.
“Considering the overwhelming support from the Executive branch, Congress, and the Senate, the postponement is likely but we will abide by the law. It is only Congress who can postpone elections,” Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said.
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano already filed a bill seeking to move the elections to the last Monday of October 2018.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez plans to file a joint resolution also calling for the postponement.
House Bill 6420, which seeks to reset the October 2016 barangay elections to October 2018, is still pending in Congress.
“Our preparations will be in full swing this September. We will start with printing of ballots for the SK on September 1,” Jimenez added.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said during the Senate Committee on Local Government hearing on the proposed postponement that the Commission is neutral on the issue but also appealed to postpone the polls only until 2017 so as not to coincide with their preparations for the 2019 mid-term elections.
The pronouncements of President Duterte should make more bearing on the Comelec now in the midst of another preaparation for election. Is it enough to halt the process?
The Commission on Elections will start printing the ballots for the Sangguniang Kabataan Elections on September 1 as the final Project of Precincts (POP) will be available by then.
The POP contains the polling precincts in every barangay, number of registered voters for every precinct, and number of established precincts for every clustered precinct.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said that the target output for Barangay and SK ballots is 1.9 million to 2 million from September 1 to October 21.
The Commission started the printing of ballots on Sunday, May 21 at the National Printing Office in Quezon City.
Fifty seven million of the total 85 million ballots will be for the barangay polls, while the remaining 28 million is allotted for SK. Around 200,000 ballots per day will be printed until August 31.
A total of 1,614,695 new voters aged 15-18 registered for the SK elections. (With PIA reports)