Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Chiz Escudero have filed separate bills to adjust the date of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections which have been set for December 5.
Estrada noted that the P8-billion budget for the said elections can be used to fund economic programs and health services to ease the effects of the pandemic on all Filipinos, particularly to those who were greatly affected. These huge funds, he said, can be used to address the current COVID-19 surge in the country.
Estrada said they can be set during the first Monday of December 2023. On the other hand, Escudero wants to move the elections on May 2024.
Under Estrada’s proposed measure, barangay and SK officials who will be elected in December 2023 will assume office at noon of January 1, 2024.
In filing the bill, Escudero said this would seek to bolster the stability and consistency of public service.
He also mentioned that one of the advantages would be mainly on interventions that will address the country’s present problems, including the COVID-19 pandemic, high oil prices, inflation, and poverty.
Escudero also aired the same concern, saying his measure will enable the government to realign a portion of the barangay and SK election’s fund amounting to ₱8.44 billion “towards interventions aimed at sustaining the current momentum in addressing the coronavirus pandemic and achieving socioeconomic objectives.
Estrada said the recently concluded 2022 national and local elections “had caused much divisiveness” among the electorate.
“The political atmosphere is very polarized that plunging Filipino voters to another situation of political toxicity in a close interval would not be beneficial to our national well-being,” he said.
Incoming Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said the Senate will wait for President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) before deciding whether to pass a bill deferring the barangay polls or not.