MANILA, Oct 18 (Mabuhay) — An election lawyer challenged before the Supreme Court (SC) the law resetting the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections from December this year to October 2023.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. administers the oath of office of Commission on Elections Chairman George Erwin M. Garcia and Commissioners Nelson J. Celis and Ernesto Ferdinand P. Maceda Jr. after their appointment to the poll body. (MNS photo)

In his petition filed Monday, Romulo Macalintal asked the high tribunal to declare Republic Act (RA) No. 11935 unconstitutional and to direct the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to proceed with the polls on December 5.

Macalintal argued that the constitution does not give Congress the power to postpone the elections nor to extend the term of office of village officials because it is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Comelec “after it has determined that serious causes warrant such postponement.”

“By extending the term of office of barangay (village) officials, RA 11935 violates the principle that the term of said officials should not be longer than their superiors,” he said in his petition.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed the law on October 10, setting the BSKE to the last Monday of October 2023 and every three years thereafter.

Any change to the term of office of village officials should apply to future elections and to apply it retroactively will “unduly curtail the freedom of the people to choose their leaders through popular votes,” Macalintal said.

The postponement, he claimed, “is a subtle way to lengthen governance without the mandate of the people” and the “questioned law violates the constitutional provision that the state shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service.”

Macalintal is not questioning the provisions of the law insofar as the Sangguniang Kabataan is concerned as “SK membership is a mere statutory right conferred by law and that Congress may amend at any time the law to change or even withdraw the statutory right.”

After the law was signed, Comelec chair George Garcia said they would always adhere to what the law dictates.

“As far as the Comelec is concerned, this (postponement) is a political decision. We reserve this to the wisdom of our executive and legislative. The Comelec is merely the administering arm of the government, meaning, we administer the election, we execute the decisions of the political departments,” he said in an interview. (MNS)