Rank and file employees of the Commission on Election (Comelec) opposed moves at the House of Representatives to postpone the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK, community youth councils) elections (BSKE) for the third time, saying the move is part of the chronic erosion of democratic processes in the country.
In a statement, the Comelec Employees Union (Comelec-EU) said their hearts bleed for voters whose right to elect the Barangay and SK leaders are again shelved if the May 14 BSKE elections are pushed back for possibly another five months.
“While we fully respect the prerogative of Congress to enact and amend laws, including those pertaining to elections; we as election workers – duty-bound to uphold and protect the right to suffrage of every Filipino voter – cannot simply turn a blind eye to the chronic erosion of our democratic processes resulting from the frequent postponement of election of leaders in the most basic unit of our society, the Barangay,” the association said.
Comelec-EU said elections in the country must be held in regular, periodic and predictable intervals while failure to do so denies voters the right to elect the village and youth leaders or exact accountability from incumbent village and youth officials by way of the ballot.
The group also said precious government resources that went into their preparations may go to waste if plans of administration legislators push through.
“We remind our esteemed legislators that the Comelec has already printed the official ballots, election paraphernalia and all the accountable forms relative to the BSKE; the verified and certified list of Barangay and SK voters are already completed and posted outside all COMELEC local offices nationwide. Should we again reduce these to mere scratch paper?” the group asked.
Meanwhile, ACT Teachers’ Party Representative Antonio Tinio said effort by some barangay executives to push for postponement is a way to extend their terms of office.
“With due respect, Attorney, you’re so thick-faced to say the proposal is not self-serving. Many of you are third-termers already who should have faced an election process a long time ago,” Tinio told Liga ng mga Barangay president Edmund Abesamis at a hearing at the House of Representatives Monday.
“The people’s sentiments—whom we are not consulting here—is for the elections to push through,” Tinio added.
Caloocan Second District Representative Edgar Erice also accused administration legislators of wanting to postpone the elections to coincide with the planned plebiscite for charter change.
“The people waited for their chance to vote. We are now playing with it. Why? Because we want it to coincide with the plebiscite! And why do we want a plebiscite? To approve the constitutional change that will contain a provision that will extend our terms!” Erice said.
Despite their objections, however, the House of Representatives Suffrage Committee voted to move the BSKE elections to October 8. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)