The government can save some P3 billion and give Filipinos a much-needed breathing space from political exercises by deferring the 2013 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections scheduled next month to the last Monday of October next year, according to Representative Magnolia Rosa Antonino-Nadres of the National Unity Party (NUP).
Nadres, a first-time lawmaker representing the fourth district of Nueva Ecija, said the postponement would also help insulate the village and SK polls from partisan politics considering that the last national elections was held barely five months earlier.
In filing House Bill 1991 seeking the postponement of the SK and village polls, Nadres joins several legislators who have filed similar proposals in the House.
These include Reps. Edgar Erice (2nd district, Caloocan City), Mel Senen Sarmiento (1st district, Western Samar), Magtanggol Gunigundo (2nd district, Valenzuela City) and Wilson Castelo (QC, 2nd district).
Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro, who chairs the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms, has scheduled the various bills filed on the polls’ deferment for discussion on Sept. 10.
“(The deferment) will definitely allow the Filipino people to take a longer pause before immersing themselves again into another political battle that will certainly disturb the peaceful condition at the local level,” Nadres said.
“It will also generate savings for the cash-strapped government of around P3 billion according to the cost estimates made by the Comelec,” she added.
This year’s SK and barangay elections are scheduled on October 28. Nadres wants the polls held instead on the last Monday of October next year and every three years after. The terms of office of the winning candidates will commence at noon of November 30, 2014 under Nadres’ bill.
The Comelec earlier said it was short of funds in conducting next month’s SK and barangay polls which would be most likely use the manual system of counting votes. According to Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., the poll body’s budget for the elections was only P1.1 billion, which is P2 billion short of the amount it needs to successfully carry out the exercise.
To resolve this funding shortfall, the Comelec has required local government units to set aside not less than P10,000 but not more than 10 percent of their available general funds to be used for the elections.
Based on Sec. 50 of the Omnibus Election Code, the “local governments shall appropriate funds to defray such necessary and reasonable expenses of the members of the board of election tellers (BETs), board of canvassers (BOC), the printing of election forms, the procurement of other election paraphernalia, and the installation of polling booths”.