THE narco-list of President Rodrigo Duterte is sufficient reason for Congress to postpone the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections and to allow the chief executive to appoint interim barangay and SK officials.
This was clearly stated in Senate Bill 1584 proposing to defer the elections on October 23 this year to October 22, 2018 which allows incumbent officials to serve in holdover capacity until then, unless the President appoints officials to replace them.
Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and Peoples Participation, has already come up with the committee report recommending postponement of the elections. Gordon took over the committee chairmanship of Sen. Leila de Lima after she was jailed.
The committee report was already signed by Sen. Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance and vice chairperson of the electoral reform panel.
It is expected that other members of the committee which include Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, and Gregorio Honasan will also sign the report.
The proposed law authored by Sen. Vicente Sotto III aims to give impetus to President Duterte’s campaign to fight the illegal drug trade at the grassroots level specifically in 43,000 barangays nationwide.
“Until their successor shall have been duly elected and qualified, or until the President, through the Executive Secretary, shall appoint officers-in-charge for the barangay, all incumbent barangay officials shall remain in office, unless sooner removed or suspended,” the measure clearly stated.
Gordon expressed belief that this will not result in problems for the Commission on Elections.
Earlier, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista expressed readiness anytime saying that they are just waiting for the Senate’s decision on the proposed postponement.
The Comelec has already started printing ballots for the October elections but if Congress is able to pass the law soon, Bautista said they would be able to cut preparation costs.
But members of the minority bloc in the Senate which include Senators Paolo Benigno Bam Aquino, Risa Hontiveros, Antonio Trillanes IV, Francis Kiko Pangilinan and Minority Leader Sen. Franklin Drilon did not sign as they strongly opposed the postponement of the elections, insisting that it is already long overdue most specifically the implementation of Republic Act 10742 or the SK Reform Act
“Ang taumbayan, hindi ang Pangulo ang may karapatan pumili ng kanilang pinuno sa barangay. We stand firmly against appointing barangay officials and concentrating power in Malacanang. If there is fear of barangay officials involved in the drug trade, step up investigations, expose these criminals and bring them to justice. We must not surrender our right to elect our leaders and destroy the building blocks of our democracy,” Aquino said.