House ‘trivializing’ barangay elections with postponement—solon
Opposition lawmakers on Tuesday chided the House of Representatives leadership’s consensus to postpone anew the 2017 barangay elections.
In a press conference at the House, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the House members, who agreed on the postponement in Monday’s caucus, are “trivializing” the democratic process of elections in the barangay polls postponement.
The 17th Congress in 2016 approved the bill postponing the 2016 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to 2017, with the officials retaining a holdover position.
The village polls were postponed to October 23 this year. The last elections was held in October 2013.
Lawmakers then echoed the President’s call to postpone the elections so that the villages would be weeded out of barangay officials who are suspected of being coddlers of drug lords.
This time, the all-party caucus agreed to postpone it anew to May 2018 to synchronize the barangay elections with the plebiscite for Charter change and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, two key pieces of legislation of the current administration.
“This is a series of postponement in perpetuity derogating sovereignty,” Lagman said in the press briefing.
“It trivializes our democratic processes, particularly so when what is being postponed is the election of the village officials at the grassroots,” he added.
Lagman said the seven-member independent minority bloc — called the “Magnificent Seven” — opposed any postponement of the village elections because “we should not deny the people the opportunity to give fresh mandate to the village officials.”
Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin said the Monday’s caucus was an “exercise in futility,” lamenting another reason for the postponement when the drug lords in the barangays – who prompted the first postponement – had not even been charged in court.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano decried the lack of progress in weeding out barangays of drug coddlers after a year of postponing the polls.
“After one year ng patayan, hindi pa ba nila nakocontrol (ang mga barangays)?” Alejano said.
In a separate press conference on Tuesday, Cibac Rep. Sherwin Tugna, who chairs theH House suffrage and elections reform committee, said that during Monday’s caucus lawmakers agreed on postponing the elections to prevent the election of drug personalities in the most basic unit of governance.
Lawmakers also heeded to the call of President Duterte to postpone the elections and help him weed out drug coddlers in the barangay level, Tugna said.
“The main reason in favor of the postponement raised during the meeting was to be in sync and to support the administration’s war on drugs. President Duterte, in his public statements, called for the postponement of elections so the elections and barangay politics will not interfere with the ongoing fight to eradicate illegal drugs at the barangay level,” Tugna said.
“Postponing the elections would prevent the election of local personalities linked to drug operations. More importantly, it would also give ample time for incumbent barangay officials to address and curb the drug-problem of our country,” he added. JE