Groups say deferment of village, youth polls 'blow to democracy'

By Ferdinand Patinio

September 30 2022, 3:17 pm

<p><em>(File photo)</em></p>

(File photo)

MANILA – Election watchdog groups on Friday opposed the impending postponement of the 2022 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE).

In a statement, National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) secretary general Eric Alvia said moving the Dec. 5 polls to another date is “very disappointing and a blow to democracy.”

“This (does not) reflects the sincerity of our legislators' commitment to the electorate and weakens the citizens to hold their local elected officials to account,” he said.

Namfrel is an accredited citizens’ arm of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the holding of plebiscites.

Meanwhile, Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente) executive director Ona Caritos noted that postponing the scheduled BSKE “is an attack against democracy and community power.”

“This consistent delay in the BSKE contravenes the standard of periodic elections as provided in Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Lente sees the BSKE as the most attainable level of citizens’ participation in governance and nation-building,” she added.

Since 2016, the BSKE has been postponed thrice resulting in some officials holding office for up to five years.

“Previously, one of the reasons backing the postponement of the BSKE 2022 is to save government funds for the country’s pandemic response. However, Comelec has already released its statement that postponing the BSKE 2022 would not result in saving money and instead will cost more funds for the government,” Caritos added.

On Wednesday, the Senate and the House of Representatives ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the measure which will postpone the Dec. 5 BSKE to the last Monday of October 2023.

The measure is just awaiting the signature of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. before it becomes a law. (PNA)