April 20, 2024

There will be many firsts in the 2023 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE).

Ahead of the Aug. 28 filing of certificates of candidacy for the BSKE, the Information and Education Department of the Commission on Elections launched in Baguio on July 31 an information and education campaign about the upcoming elections.

The forum was organized to update the candidates and the electorate about important dates during the election period, election-related laws and regulations which include the mandatory submission of Statement of Contributions and Expenditures, the SK Reform Act, and innovations in the 2023 BSKE.

BSKE officer-in-charge Commissioner Rey Bulay said the 2023 BSKE will be the first time automated elections will be conducted in pilot sites, which are Barangays Paliparan 3 and Zone 2 Poblacion, both in Dasmariñas, Cavite; and Pasong Tamo, Quezon City.

The 2023 BSKE will also be the first time that voting in malls will be permitted provided this has been approved by the voters during a consultation.

Another electoral reform that will be realized in the 2023 BSKE is the implementation of the anti-political dynasty provision in the SK Reform Law where candidates for SK are prohibited from seeking an elective post if related to an elected or appointive official up to the second degree of affinity or consanguinity from the national to the barangay level.

Relationship by consanguinity is by blood. An example of a relative in the second degree of consanguinity is sibling, grandparent, grandchild; first degree is a parent and/or child/children.

Relationship by affinity is by marriage. An example of a relative in the second degree of affinity is parent/s in law; first degree is husband or wife, sister or brother in-law, and grandparent/s in-law.

Also to be implemented is the age requirement for SK candidates where from the previous 15 to 17 years old, the SK Reform Law now requires that candidates should be between 18 to 24 years old.

Passed in 2016, the age requirement was amended in consonance with other laws where the recognized legal age is 18. This allows those who win in the SK to enter into contracts and may also be held accountable for their actions.

In pursuit of sustaining the reforms in the Philippine election system, Bulay also reminded those who attended the forum that any candidate or voters who violate election laws such as perjury or lying under oath, non-filing of SOCE, vote buying and selling, premature campaigning, will be dealt with in accordance with the law.

“Kulong ang parusa ng ilan sa mga ito at siniseryoso namin ito,” Bulay said, rei-terating that achie-ving an honest election begins by having responsible candidates and voters.

Meanwhile, the Comelec-Baguio has devised a clustered system in the filing of COC.

City Election Officer John Paul Martin said two cottages at the Comelec-Cordillera compound at Gov. Pack Road and Comelec desks will be set up in barangay halls where the cluster of barangays scheduled to submit their COC will be accommodated.

Every cluster has 32 barangays.

He said this is to avoid overcrowding and to give time for Comelec personnel to check the completeness of the documents submitted by the candidates.

Filing of COC is from Aug. 28 to Sept. 2.

For aspirants who were not able to submit their COC during their schedule, the Comelec will accept COCs on Sept. 1 and 2 at the Comelec-Cordillera compound at Gov. Pack Road, Baguio City.

The election period is from Aug. 28 to Nov. 29; campaign period is from Oct. 19 to 29; liquor ban on Oct. 29 to 30; election day on Oct. 30, and Nov. 29 is the last day of filing of SOCE. – Rimaliza A. Opiña