MANILA, Philippines – Taking its cue from the Senate, the House of Representatives now wants to postpone the 2020 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to December 5, 2022.
On Wednesday, October 2, legislators approved House Bill (HB) No. 4933 on 2nd reading through viva voce voting or a vote of ayes and nays.
The measure initially proposed to move the polls to May 2023, clashing with the Senate-approved version of the bill which proposes December 2022.
But during the period of individual amendments in the plenary, Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez proposed to postpone the elections to December 5, 2022 instead. The plenary accepted his amendment.
HB No. 4933 will now have to go through 3rd and final reading before it hurdles the House. This will likely happen in November, as the 18th Congress is expected to adjourn session for a monthlong break starting Wednesday evening.
Should the House pass HB No. 4933 on 3rd reading next month, the bill will no longer have to go through the bicameral conference committee level, as it is similar to what the Senate passed.
This means the consolidated version of the House and Senate bills would immediately be sent to Malacañang for President Rodrigo Duterte's signature.
This would also be the 3rd postponement of the barangay and SK polls under the Duterte administration. (READ: Postponing the barangay and SK elections – again)
The swift approval of the bill is not surprising, as Duterte had ordered the 18th Congress to pass it during his 4th State of the Nation Address in July.
The House is already proposing to realign the P5.77 billion initially allocated to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to fund the 2020 barangay and SK polls, indicating a strong chance the postponement would be approved.
Bayan Muna Representative and House Deputy Minority Leader Carlos Zarate previously warned that the repeated postponement of the elections would set a "dangerous precedent."