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House approves postponement of barangay and SK elections

The House committee on suffrage and electoral process chaired by Rep. Sherwin Tugna (Party-list, CIBAC), voting 19-2, approved a substitute bill which seeks to postpone the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to 2018.

The committee members approved the motion of Rep. Lord Allan Velasco (Lone District, Marinduque) to postpone the October 23, 2017 barangay and SK elections to May 2018 as provided under the substitute bill.

The unnumbered bill substituted House Bills 5359, 5361, 5380 5510, 5653 and House Resolution 905 authored by Reps. Robert Ace Barbers (2nd District, Surigao del Norte), Velasco, Jose Panganiban, Jr. (Party-list, ANAC-IP ) Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado (1st District, Bulacan), Johnny Pimentel (2nd District, Surigao del Sur) and Winston Castelo (2nd District, Quezon City), respectively.

The bill likewise provides that current barangay officials shall act in a holdover capacity until the next elections is held.

Castelo, in his sponsorship speech, gave three reasons why the barangay and SK elections should be extended.

He said the holding of the elections would derail the effective campaign of President Duterte in curtailing drug addiction that is prevalent in the country.

Second, the peace and order problem in Mindanao could hamper the holding of free and fair elections this year, said Castelo. The intelligence community has confirmed reports that the peace and order problem in Mindanao might escalate, Castelo said.

Third is that the country is not awash with cash right now. As you know there is a strong desire from MalacaAang that we pursue infrastructure projects under the Build, Build, Build Program, he said.

Castelo said the money and savings of the Comelec, which is around P6 billion, could be used instead to augment the funds for free education, build infrastructure and strengthen the defense capabilities of the police and army fighting in Mindanao.

Rep. Edcel Lagman (1st District, Albay) manifested his opposition to the postponement of the elections.

I was with the very few who objected to the further postponement of the barangay elections because this would trivialize the electoral process and would negate the sovereign will to install freely- elected village officials, he said.

Lagman also expressed his disagreement with using the campaign against the drug menace as a reason for postponing the barangay elections.

The barangay officials who may be connected to the drug problem should be prosecuted. And once prosecuted and found guilty, then they should be dismissed or suspended but not to affect the entire officials of the barangay and SK, he said.

Rep. Harry Roque, Jr. (Party-list, KABAYAN) said the elections had already been postponed once, but not a single barangay official was removed even if there had been evidence against some barangay officials involved in the drug trade.

My only hope is, given that there would be another postponement for this purpose, I hope we don't come back the third time for another postponement with no barangay officials having links with drugs being removed in office, he said.

Roque said there is a provision in the Local Government Code on how to remove erring barangay officials and he hopes we apply the law to all of them with the one-year postponement.

But for Rep. Vincent Bingbong Crisologo (1st District, Quezon City), he said it is a mistake to say that the drug problem is the reason for the postponement of the elections.

The reason really is, if we allow the elections to continue, it is the drug money that will fund the elections and naturally, the barangay candidates, not knowing that those who are supporting them are drug lords, will be indebted to these drug lords, he said.

Crisologo said if the elections will continue, it will be drug money that will dictate the outcome of the elections.

Source: House of Representatives

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