To postpone scheduled barangay (village) elections for the first time may be tolerable, postponing it the second time may be bearable but to postpone it again for the third time is already untenable and so unreasonable, an election lawyer said on Wednesday.
In a statement, Romulo Macalintal cited Sen. Ralph Recto who, according to him, said the village elections being canceled for the third time is already a “strike three against democracy.”
“Thus, the proposal of certain legislators to cancel the twice postponed barangay elections set on May 14, 2018 is already too much of an imposition upon [village]officials who do not enjoy our present mandate. They were elected for a three-year term last October 2013 to serve from November 2013 to November 2016 with the elections set on October 31, 2016. But their term of office was extended in holdover capacities when the October 2016 barangay elections were postponed until October 2017 and the latter canceled again and, as stated, set on May 14, 2018,” Macalintal said.
He added that the Constitution mandates that these village officials shall be elected by their respective constituents, meaning that they cannot be appointed.
Hence, according to Macalintal, the repeated cancelation of the elections and the extension of the term of office of “holdover officers” are a violation of the Constitution because, as enunciated by Supreme Court Justice Presbitero Velasco in his separate opinion in the 2011 case of Kida vs Senate, “Legislative appointment covers ‘holdover offices’ since a legislative extension of the term of an incumbent is virtually an appointment of the office for the extended time.”
He also cited then Associate Justice and later Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, saying in the 1997 case of David vs Comelec where certain incumbent barangay officials wanted to cancel the 1997 village polls, the Supreme Court held that “the petition is a subtle and self-serving proposition to lengthen governance without a mandate from the governed. In a democracy, elected leaders can legally and morally justify their reign only by obtaining the voluntary consent of the electorate.”
“Indeed, the dangerous effect of such a scheme is that if it can be done for barangay officials, what could prevent Congress from canceling the elections for other elective officials, like the President down to the last position of councilor, and extend their respective terms of office. This practice clearly violates the democratic system of our government where we could only be governed by leaders who have our free and voluntary mandate, not by those who were only imposed upon us by legislation, whether we like them,” Macalintal said.