THE House of Representatives committee on suffrage and electoral reforms approved on Thursday, August 25, 2022, the substitute bill and committee report on measures postponing the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections from December 2022 to December 2023.A total of 14 lawmakers favored the postponement of the barangay and SK election, which was originally scheduled on December 5, 2022.The measure, which is a consolidation of 38 bills filed at the House of Representatives, mandates that the officials who will be elected in 2021 will assume office on January 1, 2024.Incumbent officials will have an extended term pending the conduct of the election.Lawmakers said the P8-billion budget allocated for the holding of the election can instead be used for the country’s prevailing pandemic response.Committee chairperson and Mountain Province Representative Maximo Dalog said the measure will be forwarded to the House appropriations committee.But Cavite Fourth District Representative Elpidio Barzaga argued that there is no need for the bill to go through the committee on appropriations, as the suspension will not involve any budget preparations.“However, although the elections would proceed on December 5 next year, that would be the subject matter of the present (proposed) budget, because I do not know whether or not the Comelec has a budget for elections next year considering that the budget right now is for the present barangay elections scheduled on December 5 this year,” he said.“If the elections will be held next year, then that would be appropriate for the budget preparations that we are discussing right now. I don’t think we have to make a separate appropriation in so far as the bill canceling, postponing the election is concerned because there would be no expense incurred,” he added.Commission on Elections Commissioner George Garcia earlier warned that moving the election to a later date would mean additional costs of around P5 billion. (SunStar Philippines)