Elected local execs fear expenses in village pollsBy Delfin T. Mallari Jr.
Inquirer Southern Luzon
LUCENA CITY—Quezon’s local officials, especially the newly elected, are inclined to favor the postponement of the barangay elections this October because of “financial reality.”
A reelected Quezon mayor, who requested anonymity, said all barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) candidates would surely come to them for campaign funding.
“But most of us can’t afford another big expense after the just-concluded costly campaign,” he said.
A newly elected councilor said he has incurred debts from relatives and has sold some of his family’s properties, and the prospect of another huge expense “is making me crazy.”
But local government officials have come to accept the fact that should the village polls push through in October, they have to dig whatever is left in their own pockets to finance the campaign of their respective barangay leaders.
“I also have to fund the campaign of SK candidates who campaigned for my own election. That’s the bitter political reality. They had scratched my back; it’s now my turn to return the favor,” said another mayor.
House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez declared his support for the proposal of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. that the barangay elections be postponed.
“Our country needs a respite from another costly and divisive political exercise. At least one year and a half would be enough breather,” Suarez, Quezon’s third district representative, said in a phone interview on Wednesday.
The lawmaker said the incoming 16th Congress has enough time to pass the needed legislation for the proposed postponement.
“But if Aquino (President Aquino) doesn’t want it, no deal,” he added.
Catanauan Mayor Ramon Orfanel, president of the Quezon Mayor’s League (QML), said the postponement of the barangay election has no legal basis.
Orfanel, a lawyer, said the date of the barangay elections has been set by a statutory enactment.
He questioned, however, the practicality of holding another election only six months after a national and local election. Orfanel accepted the fact, though, that he is obligated to help in the campaign of his political leaders in the village.
Lopez town Mayor Isaias Ubana II, former QML vice president, also shared Orfanel’s view.
“We have to give to the people the legal opportunity to elect a new barangay leader,” Ubana said over phone.
He said he would apportion his remaining resources among his barangay campaign leaders for their campaign.
On Monday, Brillantes suggested a postponement of the village polls and preferred to move the barangay and SK elections to either October 2014 or January 2015. He said this would give the poll body ample time to resolve pending issues in the recent elections.
He said the Comelec also needed time to attend to cases expected to be filed by losing candidates and prepare for the presidential elections in 2016.
But President Aquino shot down the proposal to reschedule the election and insisted the mandate of barangay officials, as with all elective positions, should be “secured periodically.”