The Commission on Elections (Comelec) provincial office proceeded with preparations for the October 23 barangay elections as the bill proposing for its postponement still lags at second reading at the House of Representatives.
The Senate, however, had already passed on third reading, the bill authored by Senator Vicente Sotto III for postponement of barangay elections.
Provincial Election Supervisor Eliseo Labaria, relayed the status conveyed by Comelec national officials that the preparations would require at least three months.
On this, Comelec-Bohol already tried to speed up the usual routines last week.
Sotto introduced the bill upon the concern of President Rodrigo Duterte that narco-politicians might dominate the campaign trail.
Surigao del Norte Representative Robert Ace Barbers also filed a similar bill seeking to “defer the barangay and SK elections until May 2020”.
Duterte earlier made a public statement about the involvement of around 40 percent of the barangay captains nationwide in illegal drugs.
The same reason was used in postponing last year’s supposed barangay and SK elections.
Duterte even hinted that he might just appoint barangay officials this time to wipe out narco-politicians from the villages.
On this, former city councilor and barangay kagawad Jerry Pabe expressed concern that the appointment of barangay officials might just end up as groundwork positioning of the President’s political party for the 2019 political exercise.
According to Pabe, the proposal to appoint barangay captains by the President might pave for bandwagon strategy and draw aspirants who have allies in other political parties.
Pabe pointed out that barangay officials are supposedly non-party affiliated since barangays are supposedly independent.
Moreover, he cited the Local Government Code of the Philippines which provides that the punong barangay serves as the presiding officer of the Sangguniang Barangay which is the legislative body of the barangay.
The barangay captains, therefore, performs legislative functions.
The President belongs to the executive branch of government and is, therefore, prevented from resorting to the appointment of barangay leaders in consonance with the separation of powers among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government.
Also under the Local Government Code, the SK chairman has a slot in the Sangguniang Barangay.
It is for this reason that the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections have to be synchronized.
For his part, Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone filed House Bill 6125, seeking to amend Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code to allow the appointment of barangay and SK officials instead of being elected to save the government from the high cost of elections and “ to avoid election-related violence”.
In his bill, Evardone proposed that “municipal and city mayors be given the power to appoint the barangay chief and Sanggunian members”.
To undertake such process, Evardone proposed that the mayor chooses “from the nominated candidates and will seek the concurrence of the Sangguniang Bayan or Sangguniang Panlungsod”.
The mayor shall make the appointments within 30 days from assumption into office.
“Unless sooner removed or suspended for cause provided under the Local Government Code and applicable existing laws, all incumbent barangay officials shall remain in office until their successors shall have been appointed pursuant to the Act within 60 days from July 1, 2019,” as Evardone placed in HB 6125 which is pending at the Committee on Local Government of the House of Representatives.
Without the postponement of the barangay elections which will allow the President to appoint barangay captains, and the amendment to the Local Government Code being passed into law, the elections in October will push through, Labaria concluded.