•Winners in October will serve for 2 years only

The Supreme Court said the next Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) is scheduled for December 2025 leaving the newly-elected officials in October this year with only two years to serve their terms.

This as the SC said, that the law that postponed the BSKE in December 2022 was unconstitutional as it violated “freedom of suffrage.”

The SC said “RA 11935 violates the freedom of suffrage as it failed to satisfy the requisites of the substantive aspect of the due process clause of the Constitution.”

But SC has clarified that it is not asserting its power over Congress and “simply enforcing and upholding the supremacy of the Constitution.”

The SC ruled the enactment of RA 11935 was “attended with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.” It said the postponement of the 2022 BSKE for the purpose of augmenting the Executive’s funds is violative of the Constitution because “it unconstitutionally transgresses the constitutional prohibition against any transfer of appropriations, and it unconstitutionally and arbitrarily overreaches the exercise of the rights of suffrage, liberty, and expression.”

Republic Act 11935, or an “Act Postponing the December 2022 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 9164, as amended, Appropriating Funds therefor, and for other Purposes,” which was approved by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., effectively postponed the BSKE scheduled last December 5, 2022.

The BSKE was moved to October 30, 2023 in a bid to realign budget allocated for the Comelec for the recovery efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Supreme Court en Banc has granted the consolidated petitions of election lawyer Atty. Romulo B. Macalintal, Attys Alerto Hidalgo, Aluino Ala, Agerico Avila, Ted Cassey Castello, Joyce Ivy Macasa, and Frances May Realino, who all assailed the constitutionality of RA 11935. The SC decision was penned by Associate Justice Antonio Kho Jr.

The SC said “free and meaningful exercise of the right to vote, as protected and guaranteed by the Constitution, requires the holding of genuine periodic elections which must be held at intervals which are not unduly long, and which ensure that the authority of government continues to be based on the free expression of the will of electors.”

But SC also said Congress “did not unconstitutionally encroach on the power of the Comelec to administer elections when it enacted RA 11935. Neither did the provision for ‘hold-over’ capacity amount to an unconstitutional ‘legislative appointment.’”

In reviewing the case, the SC said “it has not been rendered moot to preclude the exercise by this Court of its judicial review power because RA 11935’s transgression on the people’s right of suffrage is continuing and did not cease upon the lapse of the December 5, 2022 election schedule.”

“Even on the assumption of mootness, the Court can decide the case, because grave violation of the Constitution attended the enactment of RA 11935,” the SC said. “The case calls for the resolution of a novel and unprecedented issue that affects the people’s right of suffrage at the grassroots level.”

It further said the case is “capable of repetition yet evading review and thus, demands formulation of controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public.”

The SC said the BSKE scheduled for October 2023 shall proceed and that the succeeding BSKE shall be held on the first Monday of December 2025 or two and half years from now and every three years therafter.

It said it recognized the legal practicality and necessity to proceed with the elections on October 30 this year.

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