Comelec chairperson George Garcia
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) wants a one-week transition period for the proclaimed winners of the 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) before they assume office.
Comelec chairman George Garcia said Monday night this was the commission’s position in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision that found the postponement of the BSKE to October 30, 2023 unconstitutional
“The Supreme Court said the start of term of office of those who will win the 2023 BKSE should start January 1, 2023, but that date has long passed,” Garcia said.
“That means if they win and get proclaimed tonight, they should assume office tomorrow (Tuesday),” he added.
Election boards started canvassing votes at around 8 p.m. last night and the Comelec expected to proclaim some winners soon after, except for the 245 that have pending disqualification cases.
Garcia said he had asked Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos if the Department of the Interior and Local Government could study having a transition period for all incoming village officials.
“There could be confusion if the winners proclaimed tonight would assume office tomorrow. We need ample time for proper turnover of equipment, funds and other documents,” Garcia said.
Meanwhile, the Comelec said it managed to live up to its commitment of no failure of elections despite several incidents of violence on voting day itself, which saw four people die in Mindanao.
Garcia underscored the crucial role of teachers and other electoral board members for ensuring the successful holding of the BSKE.
“Despite the fact of our limited resources, the teachers were resourceful to push through with the election because we committed that there should be no failure of election in any of the 201,786 precincts in the country, and we stood to that commitment,” he said.
All 201,786 precincts across the country have functioned during this year’s elections, although some polling precincts started late due to several issues like security.
The Comelec earlier projected the voter turnout in the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) to reach 80 percent, which would be a record for the village polls.
Comelec spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco said this is based on initial reports of many voters trooping to polling centers on Monday.
Laudiangco said in a press briefing: “Coming from 2018 and prior to the 2013 polls, the record is 70 percent (voter turnout). We are hoping that it will reach 80 percent.”
“We are witnesses to how important barangay (officials) are especially during the pandemic. We saw how they were involved in all aspects of people’s lives,” he added.
The polling body is also pushing for the annulment of the voter’s list by 2026 in preparation for the next presidential elections in 2028.
Garcia said this would ensure a clean list of voters and eliminate the perennial problem of voters being unable to find either their names on the official list or their voting precinct.
“We will have the registration period for one month,” he said.
Laudiangco reported that many members of the vulnerable sector have participated in early voting, which was pilot-tested in two areas.
“Our senior citizens, they went early to their assigned polling centers to vote,” he said.
The Comelec pilot-tested the implementation of early voting in Muntinlupa City and Naga City.
Laudiangco assured they will continue to hold early voting in future polls sans a law providing such privilege.
“In the absence of a law, we would be happy to implement early voting in 2025,” he added.
Laudiangco said they have yet to receive any complaints on vote-counting machines that malfunctioned during the pilot testing of automated polls in three areas –Barangay Poblacion Zone 2 and Paliparan 3 in Dasmariñas City, Cavite, and Barangay Pasong Tamo in Quezon City.
“So far, no reports yet on machines that failed to function. Rest assured that we are ready to immediately replace them. We have standby machines, in case we need replacement,” the poll body official said.
Laudiangco, meanwhile, said mall voting in several areas in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Bicol was also successful.
“Our mall voting is a blockbuster,” he said.