Comelec ready for barangay, SK polls

Comelec chairperson George Erwin Garcia (center)

The Commission on Elections has expressed its readiness for the conduct of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections set in October this year amid the pending petition at the Supreme Court to hold the election at a much earlier time.

In an interview with Daily Tribune’s online morning show Gising Na! on Friday, Comelec chairperson George Erwin Garcia stressed that they have already prepared the needed election paraphernalia to be used for the elections.

He added that they are also supervising the ongoing printing of 91 million ballots for shipping and distribution.

“The number of ballots could still add up depending on the outcome of our continuing registration,” Garcia said.

The Comelec chairperson also said that they are prepared with any changes in the schedule of the Barangay and SK elections which was already postponed twice in 2020 and 2022, adding that they are mandated to fulfill the law.

“The decision on the scheduling of elections is exclusive to members of Congress. The Commission could give an opinion, but we don’t have a discretion or final say on whether to push or reset the elections,” Garcia said.

He added that around 1.2 million registrants were catered by the poll body in its regular voter registration process, projecting that they would be able to reach 1.5 million at the end of the registration period by the end of the month.

Meantime, Garcia disclosed that the poll body is set to extend the “Register Anywhere” scheme to other sites across Metro Manila ahead of the last stretch of voter registration in the country, including the opening of two more sites before the end of the month.

This, as Garcia and two other officials signed a memorandum of understanding with officials from the National University led by executive vice president Dr. Rosauro Manuel for a one-day “Register Anywhere” activity at NU’s Fairview campus in Quezon City on 20 January.

NU is majority owned by the SM Group of Companies, whom the Comelec previously worked with for the conduct of ‘Register Anywhere’ in three of their malls in Metro Manila and one in Bicol Region.

Garcia said that the conduct of the polls at NU and other campuses will allow more young people to register and participate in the polls.

“When we’re talking about a university campus, we’re also talking about students and the youth. We should be able to register them as voters because we want to instill in them to accept their obligations to their country. They shouldn’t just complain if they haven’t obliged themselves to register to vote,” Garcia said.

The Comelec chair also stressed that aside from the current “Register Anywhere” program, voting in areas such as malls could be possible if the current system has been successful.

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