Race for ‘barangay,’ SK posts to start in 2 weeks

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FILING of certificates of candidacy (CoC) for the barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK or Youth Council) elections will start as scheduled this month, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez on Thursday said the weeklong filing of the CoC will be from September 23 to September 30, while the campaign period will be from October 13 to October 21, 2017.

The CoC shall be filed at the office of the election officer of the city, municipality or district where the aspirant seeks to be elected.

The twin polls will be held on October 23 unless Congress comes up with an amendatory law postponing the elections.

Jimenez said the election period is from September 23 to October 30, 2017, when carrying of firearms and other deadly weapons, use of security personnel or bodyguards by candidates, transfer or detail of officers and employees in the civil service including public school teachers and suspension of any elective provincial, city, municipal or village officer are prohibited.

The Comelec, he added, is going on with its preparations for the elections despite strong indications from Congress that they will be postponed again.

“Unless Congress gives us the assurance that the polls will be postponed, our preparations will continue. We need to be prepared as mandated by law,” Jimenez said.

Earlier, Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista said a late decision by Congress would put to waste ongoing preparations being done by the poll body, particularly the printing of ballots.

The law requires that ballots should specify the date of the elections, meaning that if Congress decides to postpone the barangay and SK polls all the ballots will go to waste.

The Comelec has alloted P6 billion for the elections, which covers conduct of public bidding and procurement of election paraphernalia.

The Comelec needs to print 78 million ballots.

Of the number, 57 million are for the village polls and 21 million for the SK polls.

On Tuesday, the Comelec en banc issued a resolution suspending the village and SK elections in the whole of Mindanao because of the siege of Marawi City by the terrorist Maute Group.

The twin elections were originally scheduled for October 2016 but postponed to October 2017.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said that he wanted the polls to be postponed because of the purported influence of drug money in the elections, the same reason why Congress postponed the 2016 barangay and SK polls.

The President had even broached the idea of declaring all village positions vacant and appointing officials to the vacancies, saying 40 percent of village officials were into drugs.

Under Republic Act 9164 or the Local Government Code, the election for barangay officials shall be held on the last Monday of October and every three years thereafter.

The House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms wants the village and SK polls postponed to the second Monday of May 2020.

The Comelec said that they have no problem with that because it is a year away from the scheduled May 2019 mid-term elections.

WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL

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