THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has temporarily suspended the printing of ballots for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.
Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista on Monday said the decision to stop printing was made in anticipation of a possible postponement by Congress of the twin polls.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said he wanted the synchronized elections to push through on October 31 but he backtracked, fearing that drug money may be used to fund candidates.
Bautista said the Comelec also slowed down in its preparations for the electoral exercise, particularly on the awarding of contracts for the supply of election paraphernalia.
If Congress will postpone the elections, the Comelec can hold the polls anytime next year but not beyond that to avoid possible conflict with the 2019 mid-term elections.
Bautista reiterated his call to Congress to make its decision known by September 1.
Genievieve Guevarra, head of the Comelec’s printing committee, said the printing of ballots will resume if Congress will not be able to come out wit an amendatory law by September 1.
“If there is still no law or a joint resolution from Congress on the postponement by September 1, we will resume the printing,” Guevarra added.
The Comelec will have to print 85 million ballots for the SK and barangay elections set for October.
Meanwhile, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara said the proposal of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to abolish the Sangguniang Kabataan or Youth Councils is unlikely to gain support from members of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Angara, chairman of the Senate local government committee, explained that it would be difficult for any member of Congress to back the proposal because the SK Reform Act had just been signed into law in January.
“I doubt if my colleagues in the Senate and in the House of Representatives would allow it (abolition of SK) considering that we just passed the SK reform Act,” Angara said.
Alvarez said the SK should be abolished because all sectors are already well-represented in Congress.
But Sen. Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito, who authored the SK bill, maintained that the new law has enough features that address the flaws of the old SK law.
“I am the principal author of the SK Reform Law, so I am for giving the SK another chance,” he said.
The senator added that it would be a disservice to the Filipino youth to abolish the SK.
Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th agreed that the youth council should be given a chance to prove that it could help strengthen the community.
Aquino, a co-author of the SK reform bill, said the efforts of Congress to push for the passage of the reform law will be put to waste if the council will be abolished.
WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL and JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA