February 22, 2024

The move questioning the legality of Republic Act 11935, the law that postponed the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections from Dec. 5, 2022 to Oct. 30, 2023 before the Supreme Court is a welcome development, especially for millions of Filipinos who have been wanting to replace non-performing officials at the grassroots level.

We cannot agree more with the snowballing call for Malacañang and the 19th Congress not to further delay the synchronized elections, as it deprives Filipinos of their Constitutional right to choose deserving local leaders who could bring about changes in their barangays.

The response to Covid-19 at the grassroots level may already be a yardstick in deciding who among the incumbent barangay officials would be deserving of getting reelected and who among the new aspirants deserve to be given mandates to serve.

The act of Malacañang and Congress to postpone elections also denied potential youth leaders from proving their worth, including those who were either inspired or challenged by the pandemic to run for office to better serve the youth sector.

The Filipino voters deserve better, but the act of Congress and the President has set yet another dangerous precedent that promotes patronage politics under the pretext of saving billions of pesos that the conduct of the synchronized elections would otherwise consume.

In reality, Malacañang and Congress chose to ignore the inconvenient truth that the postponement of the elections for the fourth time since 2016 undermines democracy, something Filipinos value dearly.

Likewise, law experts cannot agree more with the opinion that the postponement of the synchronized elections is unconstitutional because this would extend the terms of office of barangay and SK officials in a holdover capacity.

We agree that postponing the synchronized elections is an indirect form of lengthening terms of governance without the mandate from the governed even as the Commission on Elections has assured in many occasions it is ready to oversee the elections.

It is also unfortunate that the main reason for the postponement of the synchronized elections in 2016, which was to allow the passage of the Magna Carta for a Barangay bill, has not been realized up to this time.

This bill is crucial in local governance since it seeks to further strengthen the barangay, recognizing its critical role as the basic political unit and frontliner in the delivery of government services.

Contrary to claims, postponing this synchronized elections is actually a waste of taxpayers’ money, as millions have already been spent in the continuing on and off-site voters’ registration, including other preparations for the supposed elections.

There must be an end to these continuing postponements of synchronized barangay and SK elections so that Filipinos may exercise their Constitutional right to choose the leaders, who owe them the fresh mandate to serve.

Instead, the barangay and SK officials most likely now feel indebted to Congress to whom they owe their holdover positions, not to the Filipino voters from whom their powers should come from.