WITHOUT a law ordering a postponement, it’s all systems go for the synchronized barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK or youth council) polls, as far as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) are concerned.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said on Tuesday the poll body was almost through with its preparations, including the printing of 59,578,346 ballots and accountable and non-accountable forms for the May 14, 2018 barangay and youth elections. Printing of 18 million more ballots is going on.

But Jimenez pointed out that Congress possessed the authority and power to postpone the elections.

The poll body earlier approved Resolution 10246 prescribing the calendar of activities and election period in connection with the village polls.

The 4,000-strong Comelec Employees Union on Tuesday expressed strong opposition to the decision of the Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms of the House of Representatives on Monday to postpone the polls to the first Monday of October from first Monday of May.

The postponement was in anticipation of a plebiscite for a new constitution in October, which Congress wants to be held in conjunction with the village polls.

This will be the third postponement of the village polls. Congress first moved the barangay elections to October 2017 from October 2016, and then to May 2018 from October 2017.

The Comelec union, in a statement, said elections must be held as scheduled to uphold and protect the rights of Filipino voters to elect their rightful leaders and vote out those they consider undesirable or not worthy of their positions.

“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,” it said.

“Simply put, by postponing the [elections] yet again, we deny the voter his right to elect the village and youth leaders of his choice; we deny his right to exact accountability from incumbent village and youth officials by way of his ballot,” the group added.

It reminded Congress that precious government resources would be wasted should the polls be moved again, as the Comelec has printed official ballots, election paraphernalia and all accountable forms, as well as the verified and certified list of voters.

DILG also wants polls to proceed

Acting Interior Secretary Eduardo Año also said he would continue preparations for the polls sans a law moving it anew, but nonetheless said the DILG was hoping the village and youth polls would not be postponed for a third time “to allow the public to cleanse the ranks of barangay officials of the non-performers.”

Año expressed alarm over the report of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency that out of 42,036 villages in the country, 32.3 percent or 6,744 were moderately affected, while the remaining one percent or 208 villages were seriously affected by the drug trade.

“With almost 7,000 barangay moderately or seriously affected by illegal drugs, the forthcoming elections will allow the public a chance to change their leaders in their communities and install leaders who will be more active in fighting illegal drugs and supportive of the government’s thrust to stamp out illegal drugs, criminality, and corruption,” he said.