Too late to hold barangay polls?

Even if the House Bill calling for further postponement of the barangay and SK elections passes muster, the Senate is less likely to support it.

Third District Rep. Arthur Yap shared this based on the sentiments of some senators he learned from their casual conversations.

Moreover, the remaining days to May are not enough to get the bill approved into law.

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Earlier this week, the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms

voted for the postponement of the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections from May 14 to the second Monday of October this year.

The barangay and SK elections had already been postponed twice- -the October 2016 and October 2017 schedules.

The postponements were based on the apprehension of President Rodrigo Duterte that narco-politicians might dominate the barangay elections.

However, even barangay officials are now calling that the elections on May 14 should push through to give their villages a fresh start from the angst that had accumulated since the first time it was postponed in 2016.

For his part, Second District Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado said that even his father-in-law who is a barangay captain wanted the election to push through in May as the latter no longer wanted to linger in his post.

Aumentado explained that from the committee level approval, the bill would still be tackled at the plenary and only if the congressmen would hasten the process that it would be able to catch up the timeframe before Congress will have the recess next week.

However, he said no senator is even interested to sponsor a counterpart bill for the postponement of the synchronized barangay and SK elections.

COMELEC EMPLOYEES VOICE OUT

A statement of the COMELEC Employees Union (COMELEC-EU) has circulated in the social media, regarding the moves to postpone the May 14 barangay and SK elections.

In the statement dated March 12, 2018, COMELEC-EU pointed out that while they respect the prerogative of Congress to enact and amend laws, they are “duty-bound to uphold and protect the right to suffrage of every Filipino voter”

COMELEC-EU stated that they “cannot simply turn a blind eye to the chronic erosion of our democratic processes resulting from the frequent postponement of election of leaders in the most basic unit of our society, the Barangay”. 

“The COMELEC-EU maintains the position that elections in the country must be held in regular, periodic and predictable intervals. By doing so, we afford every Filipino voter the opportunity to not only elect rightful leaders in government, but also to vote-out those that they consider undesirable or not worthy of their positions in power. Simply put, by postponing the BSKE yet again, we deny the voter his right to elect the village and youth leaders of his choice; we deny his right to exact accountability from incumbent village and youth officials by way of his ballot,”COMELEC-EU stated. 

COMELEC-EU also pointed out that “precious government resources will be wasted should we postpone the polls yet again”.

“We remind our esteemed legislators that the COMELEC has already printed the official ballots, election paraphernalia and all the accountable forms relative to the BSKE; the verified and certified list of Barangay and SK voters are already completed and posted outside all COMELEC local offices nationwide. Should we again reduce these to mere scratch paper?” according to the more than four thousand strong COMELEC-EU COMELEC-EU.

LEAVE A LEGACY

Yap pointed out that the winners in the upcoming barangay election set on May 14 will have significant role as the Duterte administration is preparing the groundwork for the shift to federalism.

He explained that the barangay officials who will be elected on May 14 will be the ones serving during the transition period in the shift of the system of government.

The barangayfolk, then, should choose wisely, considering that there might be postponements of barangay elections in the light of the Charter Change that goes with the shift to a new form of government, Yap added.

Yap also called on the barangay officials in his district to list down the most significant projects so that they could leave a legacy to their people and he would lobby them in the budget planning.

He said the House of Representatives would start drafting the budget in April.



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