MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday said it will push through with the conduct of two major polls in 2025, though one of them - the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) - will be done manually.
At a press briefing, Comelec chairperson George Erwin Garcia said the poll body recognizes the finality of the Supreme Court's (SC) decision to deny the motion for reconsideration of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), over the constitutionality of the postponement of the December 2025 BSK polls.
"Sa bandang huli po kakayanin namin, iyon nga lang iyong Barangay and SK elections, maaaring hindi namin ma-automate sapagkat wala pong nai-provide sa ating budget. But sure po ang National and Local Elections (NLE) ng Mayo ay automated (In the end, we will make it happen, although the BSKE, we may not be able to automate it because there's no provided budget, but for sure the May NLE will be automated)," he said.
Garcia mentioned proposing a PHP30 billion budget for the automated NLE in May 2025 alone, but only around PHP22 billion has been initially approved.
As for the upcoming Oct. 30 BSKE, Garcia said the SC's decision also meant the immediate assumption of winning bets.
"Ang dapat start na term of office nung mga dapat nahalal ng December 2022 ay January 1, at iyong mahahalal ngayong October 30 ay January 1. And therefore, ibig sabihin, pagka-elect pala nila ngayong October 30, pagka-proclaim, kinabukasan, dapat mag-aassume na kaagad (The supposed start of the term of office elected in December 2022 is on January 1, and for those who will be elected on October 30. Therefore, it means upon their election, proclamation, the next day they should immediately assume office)," he added.
Precinct finder operating
Garcia, meanwhile, assured that the operation of the precinct finder system is going smoothly since its launch on Tuesday night.
He urged voters encountering errors to counter-check their encoded data such as proper spelling and capitalization.
The needed data includes full name, birth date, and area of registry.
"Hindi po nagda-down iyong aming precinct finder baka po nagkataong mahina lang talaga ang inyo pong signal. Simula po kagabi, tuluy-tuloy, dire-diretso, daang libo na po ang nag-inquire (The precinct finder is not going down, perhaps your [internet] signal may be weak. Since last night, it has been continuously [operating] straight on, hundred thousand have already inquired)," Garcia said.
However, if voters still fail to access their precinct designation despite the right information encoded, they still have three options available on election day.
Voters may look for their precinct numbers in the designated help desks of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) in schools; an official list of voters posted outside every precinct or schoolroom; and the book inside the room containing voters' pictures, signature, and fingerprints.
The poll body also vowed to support and provide the needs of teachers who will serve in the BSK polls.
This came following a visit from Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte at the Comelec and Department of Education (DepEd)'s command center.
"She actually requested the Commission na baka pwede maasikaso namin ang mga DepEd personnel na magma-man ng operation center ng DepEd sa bansa (that perhaps we could take care of the DepEd personnel manning the operation center in the country)," Garcia said.
He mentioned disclosing their monitoring system and procedures from the deployment of election paraphernalia to schools up to ensuring the timely distribution of honoraria to teachers.
Earlier, the Comelec vowed to release teachers honoraria within 10 days after the BSK.
This amounts to PHP10,000 and PHP9,000 for electoral chairpersons and board members, respectively, with an additional PHP2,000 for those rendering duty for early voting hours across the board.
The poll body has also prepared PHP500,000 death benefits and PHP200,000 cash assistance in case of injury for serving teachers. (PNA)