Voting 19-2, members of the Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms at the House of Representatives approved the postponement of the barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK or youth council) elections scheduled in October this year.
The lawmakers proposed the electoral exercise be held in May 2018 with incumbent officials acting in a holdover capacity.
Rep. Sherwin Tugna of the Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption Party-list, who heads the panel, said a measure that seeks to postpone the village polls may be passed this month.
The League of Barangay supported the postponement, according to its National President, Edmund Abesamis.
Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco moved for the consolidation of the five bills on the postponement of the elections.
ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio however expressed dismay that only the position of officials were heard.
“What we want is for other sectors to be heard also, especially the citizens. We have citizen groups here. This is the second postponement already, is it right to postpone it again? The cited reason is the drug problem, is postponing the election anew the solution to that? Is it not that the right approach is to sue those who should be sued then remove them?” he said.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd on Monday said the upper chamber “has no choice” but to pass in September a measure postponing the barangay elections and allowing current local officials to remain in their posts.
The Commission on Elections (Commission) said that at least P1 billion will be lost if the village elections will be postponed.
“Postponement with holdover. It’s less controversial than postponement and appointment,” Pimentel said.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd filed Senate Bill 1469 seeking to extend the term of office of incumbent barangay officials to support the President’s call to postpone the local polls.
Pimentel also pressed the Executive branch to file charges against the barangay officials included in the supposed “drug list” submitted to the President.
“We will include in the measure the filing of administrative cases based on grave grounds. That will be the best compromise. We can give the executive what they want but we will give them some obligations to also act on these cases,” he said.
The Senate chief said the war on drugs should not serve as justification to repeatedly postpone the barangay elections.
with BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO