Lawmaker defends barangay, SK polls postponement

A lawmaker has defended the decision of the House of Representatives to postpone the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (BSKE) elections, saying they are “not robbing the people” of the rights to choose their leaders.

In an interview with “The Chiefs” on Cignal’s One News/TV5 Tuesday night, House committee on suffrage vice chairman Elpidio Barzaga said rescheduling the BSKE was the decision of the majority that they have to follow.

“We are not robbing the people … You can have unanimity, there will always be opposition but how far and how great will be that opposition as compared to those groups who are elected public officials supporting the postponement,” he said.

The panel, with a 12-2 vote, postponed the holding of the BSKE from Dec. 5, 2022 to Dec. 4, 2023, which was strongly opposed by poll watchdogs.

Barzaga explained that elections are not the only method to get back at barangay officials who are deemed by their constituents as incompetent, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Actually, the people must be vigilant in their rights. If they feel their barangay captain is doing something which is illegal or constitute a remission in the performance of their duties, notwithstanding that there is no scheduled elections, they can take the appropriate action,” the Cavite congressman said.

They can file an administrative or criminal case or a complaint against incompetent official, he said.

According to Barzaga, the P8.49-billion funding allocated for the BSKE is also not enough.

He said in the May local and national polls, there were 160 clustered precincts manned by a chairman, poll clerk and a third member who were paid a total of P30,000.

But since the BSKE is done manually, the needed clustered precincts is double, effectively also doubling the number of poll workers, he pointed out.

“The issue is practicality. Do we have sufficient funds to hold the barangay and SK elections?” Barzaga said.

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