Filing of candidacy for barangay, SK polls begins Saturday

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 13) — With no consolidated congressional measure to delay it, the election period for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls is finally pushing through this Saturday.

Aspirants for the posts can now file for candidacy starting tomorrow, April 14. Comelec will start receiving Certificates of Candidacy (COCs) at 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. of April 20.

Comelec reminds the public that starting midnight a gun ban will take effect. This means the bearing, carrying, and transporting of firearms and other deadly weapons will be strictly prohibited. The gun ban is expected to end on May 21.

The poll body also assured that it will closely monitor not only possible election violations but also election-related violence.

"Historically, nakikita natin sa barangay elections. Maliit teritory, pinaglalabanan at magkakakilala.  (We see this in barangay elections. People who know each other fight over small territories.) Worse is when they (rival candidates) are relatives.  Conflicts are deeper," said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.

In a media briefing on Friday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said there are 5,744 barangays nationwide among election watchlist of areas or hotspots.

"The PNP assures it is doing its best efforts in order to uphold the security and integrity of barangay and Sanguniang Kabataan elections as well as to sustain peace and order in the country," said PNP spokesperson PC/Supt. John Bulalacao.

Postponed twice due to drug war

The village and youth council polls have been postponed twice due to President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs. It can be recalled that Duterte expressed fears that incumbent barangay officials who allegedly have links with drug syndicates might get re-elected.

On March 12, the House suffrage and electoral reforms committee agreed to delay SK and barangay elections to October 8. However, there was no counterpart measure filed at the Senate.

The President can only defer local polls to a later date if he signs into law a reconciled and consolidated bill submitted by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), meanwhile, urged aspiring candidates involved in illegal drugs to desist from running.

"Do your country a favor.  Do not even consider the thought of filing your certificate of candidacy for any position in the coming barangay and SK elections," DILG OIC-Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement.

DILG also encouraged the public to vote on May 14 for good leaders who are "matino, mahusay, at maaasahan (decent, competent, reliable)."

CNN Philippines' Jerald Uy contributed to this report.