House committee OKs new barangay, SK elections postponement

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 12) — The House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms approved Monday another proposed postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in May.

Committee Chairman Sherwin Tugna said the panel agreed to move the elections from May 14 to October 8 because they believe the government will be able to save costs if the polls coincided with the possible referendum on charter change.

"Upang pagdating ng October 2018, doon na isasabay ang plebisito on the assumption na magkakaroon ng deliberations sa new form of government between this period up to October 2018," Tugna said.

14 congressmen voted in favor of postponing the elections, while only two voted against it.

Committee member Egay Erice, however, said the ultimate goal of the postponement is to extend the terms of congressmen.

"Maliwanag po, ang motibo nitong postponement ng barangay elections, maisabay ang plebisito, ma-postpone ang election para i-extend natin ang mga sarili nating term of office," Erice said.

In case it pushes through, this will be the third postponement. In 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte move the polls from October 2016 to October 2017 after he expressed fears drug money will fund the campaign.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec), meanwhile, said it would be better to hold the elections in May because they are already prepared to hold the elections.

It will also be difficult for the Comelec to hold the elections in October because it will be held almost simultaneous with the filing of Certificates of Candidacy for the 2019 elections, and with the preparations of the local and national elections,

On Sunday, House Justice Committee chair Reynaldo Umali told CNN Philippines he wanted the barangay and SK elections moved so Congress could concentrate on the charter change, the shift to a federal form of government, and the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Umali also said if the Senate does not approve of the measure, then elections will continue on May 14.

With only a few weeks left before both the House and Senate adjourn on March 24, Umali said it is "never too late" to approve the postponement. The two chambers will also resume their sessions on May 14.

House Bills No. 7072, 7128, 7167, and 7217 were earlier filed by Reps. Johnny Ty Pimentel, Jose Panganiban Jr., Reynaldo Umali, and Edgar Sarmiento for the postponement of the local elections.

The four bills sought to amend Republic Act No. 9164, which synchronized both the barangay and SK elections.

On February, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the elections will push through.

Around 42,000 barangays nationwide will vote in the upcoming polls. The barangay elections were last held in October 2013.

CNN Philippines' Correspondent Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.