DESPITE assurance from Congress leaders to postpone the barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK or Youth Council) elections, nothing is final until a signed copy of the amendatory law is out, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
“We asked for a clear indication by September 1 whether Congress would postpone the elections. We got our answer sooner than expected. All we need now is the signed law to serve as a legal basis for the postponement,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said on Wednesday.
The House of Representatives and the Senate agreed on Tuesday to move the village and SK polls from October 31, 2016 to October 23, 2017 in deference to the wishes of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, also on Wednesday reiterated the two chambers’ assurances on the speedy passage of the law postponing the synchronized elections.
Alvarez said the House version of the proposed bill, which he authored, along with several other lawmakers, would be approved next week.
“The Senate is ready to adopt the House version so that the bicameral committee need not act on it anymore,” he said.
Angara said the Senate would immediately act on the measure as soon as it receives the House-approved version.
“It is the best option. We can avoid election fatigue, save on expenses and [postponement]will give the Comelec more time to better prepare,” he said in the weekly media forum Kapihan sa Manila Bay held at Café Adriatico in Ermita, Manila.
The Comelec temporarily suspended the printing of ballots last Friday.
It previously manifested that, if the elections were suspended this year, it would prefer that the polls be moved to 2017, instead of 2018 as originally proposed.
“We are thankful that our lawmakers responded positively to our position that a postponement of the barangay polls to 2018 would adversely affect preparations for the mid-term elections scheduled for 2019,” Jimenez added.
The National Printing Office has already printed more than 400,000 ballots for the barangay elections before the printing was stopped.
It would have started printing the ballots for the SK polls on September 1.