House votes to postpone May 2018 barangay, SK polls
The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill cancelling the May 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections for the third time under President Rodrigo Duterte’s term.
Voting 211-29-0, the Lower Chamber approved House Bill 7378, which seeks to postpone the village polls from May 14 to Oct. 8, 2018. Subsequent village polls should be held on the second Monday of October 2021 and every three years thereafter.
The bill, which was approved on second reading last March 14, would then be transmitted to the Senate. Congress only has until Friday to approve the bill, before it adjourns its session on March 23 and return on May 14.
Incumbent barangay officials will also remain in hold-over positions until their successors had been elected in the next polls.
READ: House votes on 2nd reading to move village, SK polls to October
The barangay and SK elections were originally scheduled for Oct. 31, 2016 and were later moved to Oct. 23, 2017 and then May 14, 2018.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III earlier said he could no longer see any reason to postpone again the polls, while Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said the proposed postponement lacked time and support by majority members.
A ‘self-serving’ move
Caloocan City 2nd District Rep. Edgar Erice lambasted the decision of the House to approve the third cancellation of the village elections.
“Buo po ang aking tiwala, dinig na dinig ko ang panaghoy ng aking mga kababayan sa ikalawang distrito ng Caloocan na sa tingin nila ay pinaglalaruan na lamang natin ang kanilang karapatan, ang kanilang sagradong karapatan na pumili ng kanilang mga lider sa kani-kanilang mga komunidad,” Erice said during his explanation of a no-vote.
“We are postponing the barangay elections for the wrong reasons! Pino-postpone po natin yung barangay election para sa ating sarili dahil may interes tayo na magkaroon ng plebisito, dahil may interes tayo na i-postpone ang May 2019 elections… Ito pong batas na ito ay self-serving,” he added.
The proponents of the measure suggested that the elections be postponed until October to synchronize it with the possible plebiscite over the amendment of the Constitution, to give more time to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to prepare for the poll, and to address the alleged involvement of barangay officials in illegal drug trade, among others.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano rejected these reasons saying: “I would like to reiterate that the answer to this issue is to file charges against those involved; not the postponement of elections.”
Alejano said the Comelec and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) have likewise assured the public that preparations for the polls are almost done.
ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio also mocked the proponents’ reason to postpone the elections to synchronize it with the possible plebiscite on the proposed Charter change.
“Eh sa kasamaang palad, Mr. Speaker, nasa guni-guni pa lamang ang panukalang plebisitong ito. Walang sino man sa atin ang makapagsasabi ng tiyak na magkakaroon ng plebisito sa Oktubre ng taong ito,” he said.
For his part, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said this move was “not what our people truly wants.”
“This will not only lead to NO-EL in 2019 and term extensions for the incumbents, worse it may even lead to another dark era of authoritarianism in our country. A Marcosian deja vu!” he said./muf/ac
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