• Comelec eyes Zamboanga polls before Nov. 30

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    The Commission on Elections (Comelec) plans to hold a special election in Zamboanga City before November 30.

    Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said that they don’t want local officials to occupy their posts when their terms end at 12 noon on November 30.

    “Preferably we would want to have the special elections before November 30 to avoid any hold-over. But we cannot . . . as yet schedule, and we are also assessing this on a day to day basis,” Brillantes said.

    On Tuesday, the Comelec steering committee recommended that the barangay polls in Zamboanga be postponed due to security threats.

    The decision to postpone the local polls was based on the recommendations of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Department of Education (DepEd) and the City Council Management Committee to rehabilitate Zamboanga.

    Commissioner Christian Robert Lim said that the military’s clearing operations may take 19 days, in which aspiring barangay officials are given six days to file their Certificate of Candidacy (COC) and 10 days to campaign.

    However, the budget allotted for the special polls in Zamboanga would still be the same.

    “We only have minimal expenses as we will not yet release the honoraria for teachers. The official ballots will not yet be distributed as well,” Lim said.

    Meanwhile, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. is in favor of postponing the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections for the next three years unless an SK reform law is passed, a stance already expressed by Brillantes.

    “I agree with him [Brillantes] that there should not be an SK election without a reform law. I want the youth to play a role in the government, but that does not mean that you have to give them 10 percent of the Internal Revenue Allotment budget,” Belmonte said, referring to the policy wherein the SK would get its budget from local government units (LGUs) across the country.

    “They just spend the huge budget on shady sports events, trainings, and seminars when they are not even accountable for their actions. Some of them are too young for the job,” Belmonte added.

    Under the law signed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd, the 2013 SK elections will be postponed for a year and that the next SK polls should be scheduled by the Comelec between October 28, 2014 and February 23, 2015.

    Brillantes, however, is adamant that such deadline would be useless if Congress fails to pass a law reforming the youth council.

    “If there is still no reform law by 2015, then we will already seek for the abolition of the SK,” the Comelec chief earlier said.

    The chairman likewise questioned the need for a youth council.
    “The SK hasn’t been effective, and the youth is already represented in the government,” he said.

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