THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) is close to completing preparations for the upcoming December 5 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) even as it remains uncertain if the polls will be held as scheduled.
Comelec Chairman George Erwin Garcia said on Friday that the Commission is almost "80 percent" prepared and is expected to complete this month the printing of ballots and other documents needed for the synchronized barangay and SK elections.
Also yesterday, the Comelec Bids and Awards Committee opened virtually the bids for the supply and delivery of mechanical paper for official ballot for use in the 2022 BSKE.
"We are all-out with our preparations. We are not thinking about the possibility that barangay and SK elections might be postponed," Garcia added.
He pointed out that even if the 2022 BSKE would be postponed, the printed ballots and other election paraphernalia would not go to waste as they could still be used in the next elections.
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Garcia explained that as an election lawyer, he is always for elections but stressed that the ultimate decision whether to hold it as scheduled or postpone it next year still remains with Congress.
"We at the Comelec will just abide by the mandate of Congress and the executive as far as postponing the election is concerned," he said.
He pointed out though that postponing the elections would entail a lot of expenses that the government could otherwise channel to pandemic response, food security and economic recovery.
The Comelec has pegged the cost of postponing the BSKE to May or December 2023 from P17 billion to P18 billion, more than double the P8.45 billion that will be spent if the polls were held as scheduled on December 5.
The House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms has already approved a proposal to postpone the barangay and SK elections scheduled on Dec. 5, 2022 to Dec. 4, 2023.
Election watchdog National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) has expressed its opposition to proposals to postpone the 2022 BSKE polls, saying that postponement negates the purpose for the creation of barangay, which serves as the primary planning and implementing unit of government policies, plans, programs, projects and activities in the community.
"As the level of government closest to the people, each voter should be given regularly and without interruption the right to choose the leaders they see and interact with on a daily basis," it added.