Voters advised to check track records of barangay, SK candidates during pandemic

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 6 Sep) – Two years after the postponement of Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE), voters will have a better gauge of the capacity of their local leaders to lead because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, an official of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC)-Davao said on Tuesday.

Barangay elections in Davao Occidental in 2013. MindaNews file photo by RUBY THURSDAY MORE

Lawyer Gay Enumerables, COMELEC assistant regional director, said over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Tuesday that the pandemic tested the capabilities of the barangay leaders who were at the forefront of the local government’s response to COVID-19.
 
“They should have excelled during that time, so that people would see how good they are in providing services,” she said.
 
Enumerables said that at the height of COVID-19 lockdowns, barangay leaders practically handled essential programs, from the distribution of cash aid and food assistance, to taking care of those who tested positive, and to locating isolation facilities.
 
“During the pandemic, everything was closed. It was the barangay that handled everything,” she pointed out.
 
She said there were barangays that were criticized during the distribution of cash aid.
 
Enumerables said the filing of certificate of candidacy (COC) for the December 5, 2022 synchronized barangay and SK elections would push through from October 6 to 13.
 
Section 10 of Republic Act 10742, or the SK Reform Act of 2015, provides that an “official of the Sangguniang Kabataan, either elective or appointee, must be a citizen of the Philippines, a qualified voter of the Katipunan ng Kabataan, a resident of the barangay for not less than one year immediately preceding the day of the elections, at least 18 years but not more than 24 years of age on the day of the elections, able to read and write Filipino, English, or the local dialect, must not be related within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity to any incumbent elected national official or to any incumbent elected regional, provincial, city, municipal, or barangay official, in the locality where he or she seeks to be elected, and must not have been convicted by final judgment of any crime involving moral turpitude.”
 
Section 39 of the Local Government Code provides that an elective local official must be a citizen of the Philippines; a registered voter in the Barangay, municipality, city, or province or, in the case of a member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Sangguniang Panlungsod, or Sanggunian bayan, the district where he intends to be elected; a resident therein for at least one year immediately preceding the day of the election; and able to read and write Filipino or any other local language or dialect.
 
It added that candidates for the position of Punong Barangay or member of the Sangguniang Barangay must be at least 18 years of age on election day.
 
Enumerables said that the commission’s preparations for the BSKE on December 5 are underway amid ongoing discussions in Congress for postponement to December 2023.
 
She reminded local candidates who are planning to participate in the upcoming elections to be truthful with their declarations in their COCs.
 
She assured that the COMELEC has sufficient budget to hold the BSKE this year.
 
Unlike the recent automated national elections in May where vote counting machines (VCMs) were used to cast votes, she said the BSKE will be “manual” because it would be difficult to program the VCMs per barangay.
 
She said the COMELEC has set an election gun ban from October 6 to 12 and campaign period from November 25 to December 3.
 
She said they are all set for the synchronized barangay and SK elections after RA 11462 rescheduled it from May 2020 to December 5, 2022.
 
Without another law postponing it, Enumerables said the COMELEC would push through with the barangay and SK elections. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)