Comelec: Quick assumption of office for poll winners

PROCLAIMED winning candidates in the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) can assume office the day after the voting.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman George Erwin Garcia said on Monday the prompt assumption of office was the interpretation of the commission en banc in relation to the Supreme Court ruling that declared Republic Act (RA) 11935, the law that moved the BSKE from Dec. 5, 2022, to Oct. 30, 2023, unconstitutional.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman George Erwin Garcia. File Photo

Garcia said in declaring RA 11935 unconstitutional, the Court allowed the holding of the polls on Monday, citing legal practicality and necessity, although it was silent on the term of office of the winning candidates.

The Court merely mentioned that the next BSKE election “shall be held on the first Monday of December 2025 and every three years thereafter.”

Garcia said the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) agreed with the Comelec interpretation that the winners in the BSKE can assume office immediately.

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He, however, said he has requested Interior Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. for a transition period of one week to avoid conflicts between incumbent officials who lost and their successors.

“Though it’s not within our jurisdiction anymore, we anticipate what will happen thus the need for a one week transition period for proper turnover of responsibility, finances and barangay properties,” he said.

Garcia also pointed out that the DILG will allow winning candidates to assume office without filing the Statement of Contribution and Expenditures (SOCE).

Garcia said the assumption of office of barangay and SK officials is an issue that belongs to the DILG, but even as they have already assumed office, Comelec rules still require them to submit their SOCE within 30 days from election day, or until November 29.

“There is no holdover capacity. The term of office of incumbent [barangay and SK officials] would end today (October 30) as those who will be proclaimed will start theirs tomorrow (October 31) as SK and barangay officials,” he said.

Comelec spokesman John Rex Laudiangco said there are three requirements before an elected official can start his term: a proclamation by the Comelec, an oath of office and an assumption to office.

In the case of barangay and SK officials, the Supreme Court ruling deems their term of office over, and that all of them are in a holdover capacity.

“The law says that they will remain in holdover capacity except upon the election and qualification of their successors to office,” Laudiangco said,

The Omnibus Election Code and the Local Government Code were both silent on the issue of transition, Laudiangco said.

But he pointed out that even though the term transition period was not specifically mentioned, the law says that incumbent officials are responsible for their offices’ finances and property, which require an inventory.

“That’s the transition that will happen there,” Laudiangco said.

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