September 27, 2023

Government will end up spending more if Congress decides to again postpone the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan election, which was moved from May 9, 2021 to Dec. 5 this year.

The House Committee on Electoral Reforms and Suffrage, last Aug. 25 approved the substitute bill postponing the elections for the second time.

No date has been set on when the elections will be held, pending the discussion and ratification of the committee report in plenary but officials of the Commission on Elections said the government would end up spending more because of the projected increase in the number of registrants.

Comelec added the postponement, in the long term, will also require additional polling precincts, hiring of additional electoral board and support staff, and printing of more ballots for the expected additional registrants especially those expected to turn 15 years old by 2023.

The anticipated increase in the honorarium of members of the electoral board is another expense both houses of Congress should consider, Comelec Chair George Erwin Garcia said.

Postponement can also derail the schedule the Comelec set in preparation for the December 2022 elections such as procurement of election paraphernalia, printing of ballots, training of electoral board and support staff, and distribution of ballots to the regional offices then to the precincts on election day. 

There are two schedules proposed for the barangay and SK elections – in May 2023 and December 2023.

Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, Comelec spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco said if the elections were to be conducted in May 2023, there will be around 72.7 million Filipinos of voting age. Comelec has projected there will be 69.3 million registered voters by that time.

If elections were held in December 2023, there will be 73.5 million Filipinos of voting age and 70 million registered voters.

There were 65.7 million registered voters in the May 2022 elections.

Garcia added they projected around 3,00,000 new SK registrants if the elections were postponed again as those who are less than 15 years old during the continuing registration after the May 2022 elections might register for the 2023 elections.

Garcia said Comelec will adhere to the decision of Congress, but he appealed the new schedule should not be too close to the May 2025 midterm elections.

Pending Congress’ action, Comelec will proceed with its calendar of activities.

Commissioner Rey Bulag, who is also the head of procurement for Comelec said the National Printing Office will begin printing 92 million ballots in October and the shipping of ballots in the regions will begin in November.

Officials and some employees of Comelec were in Baguio last week for a training for the elections in December.

“We have a mandate. We have to implement the law”, Garcia said referring to Republic Act 11462, or the law which reset the barangay elections to December and declared that current officials sit on a holdover capacity.

The same law states subsequent elections will be on the first Monday of December 2025 and every three years thereafter. – Rimaliza A. Opiña