The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to defer the barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK or youth council) elections to May 2018.
Only 10 lawmakers — Arlene Brosas of Gabriela party-list, Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis party-list, France Castro and Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers party-list, Sarah Jane Elago of Kabataan party-list, Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna party-list, Gary Alejano of Magdalo party-list, Tom Villarin of Akbayan party-list, Raul del Mar of Cebu, and Ramon Rocamora of Siquijor — opposed the bill while 213 voted for it.
Under the measure, all incumbent barangay officials shall remain in office unless removed or suspended for cause.
House Bill 6308 also provides that the available balance appropriated for the barangay and SK elections “shall be considered as continuing appropriations and shall be used exclusively for the conduct of the barangay and sangguniang kabataan elections.”
These are the P5,914,992,000 appropriated for the barangay and SK elections and P422,734,000 for the barangay and SK registration under the 2016 General Appropriations Act, the P901,150,000 appropriated for the SK elections and the P155,167,000 for the SK registration.
“I am glad that the bill has passed third reading. It will bring the nation closer to its goal of postponing the barangay elections so that the current barangay officials will not be hampered in the campaign against illegal drugs,” Rep. Sherwin Tugna, who heads the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms, said.
“I believe that the Senate is also on its way to passing the counterpart barangay postponement bill,” he added.
But Alejano said the postponement of the barangay election “does not serve any purpose but to curtail our democratic processes.”
“The barangay election is supposed to be an opportunity to cleanse the government posts at the barangay level. If indeed the current barangay posts are compromised by drug-tainted personalities, then it is more necessary to hold the barangay election to remove officials involved in illegal dealings,” he said.
Casilao said postponing the barangay and SK elections will deprive Filipinos of their right to vote.
“Bayan Muna voted no because it shows disrespect to the barangay as the basic unit of the political structure of the country. This decision infringes on the right to suffrage of Filipinos and deprives of the right to replace unworthy leaders in their barangays,” Zarate said.