Election watchdog Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) on Wednesday expressed concern over some 27,000 “unopposed” candidates for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) next month.
In a Viber message, LENTE Executive Director Rona V. Caritos said the large number of unopposed candidates might undermine the country’s democracy.
“People don’t have choices. The heart of a democracy is people having choices, so this situation goes into the heart of democracy,” Caritos said.
Based its latest data, the Commission on Election (Comelec) registered the following “unopposed candidates” for the next BSKE: 7,226 for barangay chairman; 1,611 for member of the Sangguniang barangay; 8,057 for Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) chairman; and 10,620 for SK.
“We are concerned with this number, given that we know how much people are invested in barangay governance,” Caritos said.
The poll body was also able to record eight villages with no barangay chairman candidates.
There are also 124 barangays without SK chairman candidates and 543 others without SK candidates.
Caritos said the number of barangays with no candidates running for SK positions was higher compared to that in the 2018 BSKE.
Comelec earlier said the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) may assign officers-in-charge in barangays without any candidates for the next BSKE on October 30, 2023.
LENTE urged the election stakeholders to study the cause of such a trend to prevent its recurrence in future polls.
“It would be good to take a closer look at these barangays and identify reasons why this happened. This can help in preparation for the 2025 BSKE,” Caritos said.
She also said the result of the study can help in amendments in the current set up of the SK council.