Postponing SK, barangay polls incentivizes non-performing officials, says election watchdog

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 18) — The motion to postpone the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections slated this December would only incentivize non-performing officials who may get the extra privilege to extend their undeserving run, a poll watchdog warned Thursday.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source, LENTE Executive Director Ona Caritos stressed that postponing the elections deprives the public of their right to vote, especially those who deserve to experience better governance in their localities.

"Lagi naming sinasabi sa LENTE na ang barangay at SK ang pinakagobyerno na nakakasalamuha natin sa araw-araw," she said. "Hindi naman sa araw-araw nating buhay ay nakakasalamuha natin ang Presidente, ang ating mga congressman."

[Translation: We always say in LENTE that our barangay and SK officials are the ones we get to deal with everyday. It's not often that we get to interact with the President or congressmen.]

"Yung epekto naman niyan sa barangay at SK officials, yung mga performing, okay. Pero paano ang mga non-performing? Binibigyan natin sila ng incentive na magtuloy pa sa kanilang non-performance sa pwesto dahil ipopostpone natin itong barangay at SK elections," Caritos added.

[Translation: When it comes to the effect of the proposed postponement, there's no problem with performing barangay and SK officials. But how about the non-performing? We will only incentivize them by allowing them to keep their posts despite their apparent non-effective performance.]

The House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms on Tuesday approved the proposal to postpone the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections set this December and move it to December next year.

But this move is not yet final since the matter will have to be tackled in the plenary, while the Senate and the House of Representatives will need to reach a consensus on the issue.

READ: House panel OKs motion to move barangay, SK polls to December 2023

Lawmakers who are advocating for the postponement of the barangay and SK elections argue this would save the government billions of pesos to address more urgent economic and public health issues.

Commission on Elections Chairman George Garcia previously said that delaying the polls would, in fact, cost the government billions of pesos more for additional supplies and poll workers to cater to a larger number of registered voters.

The Comelec currently has a budget of ₱8.4 billion for these elections, of which around ₱800,000 have already been spent.