Comelec to solons: Decide on fate of barangay, SK elections before end-Sept

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 19) — The Commission on Elections is appealing to lawmakers to finalize their decision on the fate of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) before the end of September, as they begin the printing of ballots for the upcoming elections.

"We are deeply, really praying that hopefully, before the end of September, this issue will be put to an end. And hopefully, we’ll have a definite answer," Comelec chairman George Garcia told CNN Philippines' The Source on Monday.

Garcia said further delays in the decision may potentially cause "complications" with the filing of certificates of candidacies scheduled on October 6-13.

Garcia bared the schedule for the printing of the ballots for BSKE.

"For the entire month, from September 20 to October 20, matatapos dapat ang printing ng mga balota natin kasama ang verification (the printing and verification of ballots should be completed)," he said. "We are supposed to start the printing of the ballots today and we are waiting for information from the National Printing Office."

The Comelec chair said no ballots will be wasted even if the polls will eventually be postponed since the voters will manually fill them out with the names of their preferred candidates.

The Comelec has already spent more than ₱1 billion in preparation for the conduct of the BSKE. The printing of ballots will cost them another ₱1 billion.

Garcia projected that the procurement of other resources will cost around ₱3 billion. Other expenses include around ₱300 million for the training of teachers and the rest of the available funds will be used for their honoraria.

"Comelec will just issue a resolution na lahat ng ballots, for example, in 2022, will be the same ballots that will be used in 2023. 'Yung date lang po na nandoon sa balota ang medyo maiiba (Only the dates in the ballot will be changed) but that will be covered by the en banc resolution in the event that the election will be postponed," Garcia explained.

The House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill 4673 which seeks to postpone the upcoming BSKE this December 5 to the first Monday of December 2023.

The measure will still have to hurdle the House plenary for third reading, and another approval from the Senate and President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. in order for it to be finalized.