LP not keen on having barangay polls postponed, says Pangilinan
Another postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections would be highly unreasonable and would deny citizens their choice of leaders, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said on Wednesday at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay, a forum held weekly at the Cafe Adriatico.
Pangilinan said members of the Liberal Party (LP), of which he is president, had some reservations about the proposal, particuarly on “on the act of appointing rather than electing” barangay officials.
He pointed out that the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections had been previously postponed because of amendments to the SK law and the fact that the polls would be held only months after the national elections, which would not give the Commission on Elections enough time to prepare.
“A second postponement is no longer reasonable,” Pangilinan said. “ The issue of postponing (barangay elections) a second time also affects the right to suffrage of our countrymen. A vast majority of citizens want the barangay elections.”
“There was an understanding before, when we decided to agree to the postponement of the elections, that we will definitely hold it one year later,” he added. “So why postpone it again? We wouldn’t have agreed had we known… All the while we thought one postponement would have been sufficient.”
He also called unrealistic the Duterte administration’s proposal to appoint barangay officials. President Rodrigo Duterte, he noted, would have to appoint a total of 1.6 million people to posts in 42,000 barangays nationwide.
Pangilinan stressed that this was just “not contemplated in a constitutional democracy.”
He urged the Duterte administration to trust the voters and to give to them their choice of leaders.
“We should make illegal drugs a campaign issue so voters will be more critical and make sure that they will support someone who is not into drugs,” he said. “It (barangay elections) should not be postponed just because we are afraid of the issue on illegal drugs, that someone involved in illegal drugs might become a barangay official.”
He said that he saw nothing wrong with extending the term of current barangay officials, which had previously been done, “because somehow they (current barangay officials) still have the mandate.”
A mandate, the senator said, would be important to gain support for laws among barangay constituents.
He added that the debt of gratitude of appointed barangay officials would definitely not go to constituents but to the appointive authority.
“We have already postponed it once. That’s enough,” he said. “It will be a stronger democracy if we proceed with the elections. We are weakening our constitutional democracy (if we postpone).” /atm