At barely four months to go before the scheduled Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, which are still uncertain to be conducted, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) finds itself in a deep quandary as Congress remains vague and loose about whether r not to postpone these two exercises.
COMELEC has sounded an urgent call to the legislators that the time for decision is at hand, because the poll body needs to make preparations for the polls.
For his part, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero is in favor of postponing them: “We are holding elections almost every year. It must be getting tiresome, don’t we think? And the expense. It costs the government billions of pesos to conduct an election. Synchronizing elections would be a good way of getting around that, avoiding too many individual elections.”
In October last year, President Rodrigo Duterte said he was in favor of postponing the barangay elections to avoid it getting hijacked by influence-peddling narco-politicians.
And then there is the proposed legislation spearheaded by Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto resetting the election for October 2018, to give the Duterte Administration ample time and opportunity to investigate the suspicion that as many as 40 percent of barangay captains are involved in illegal drugs.
But Escudero doesn’t see the postponement of the polls as the solution, asking why the Department of Justice isn’t seen to be lifting a finger to investigate the matter: “Bring it on. If 40% are into drugs, I don’t see even 1% being investigated.
It was in 2013 when the Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council) election was postponed to February 2015, ostensibly to give way for reforms to be formulated.
But it was reset again so that it can be synchronized with the barangay elections scheduled for October 2016.
If there is going to be another reset of the barangay election this October, it behooves Congress to determine whether or not to continue with the incumbent officials in holdover capacity. If a new set is to be appointed, however, there should be clear guidelines to avoid the process getting construed as being politicized.
Senator Franklin Drilon said: “I am not in favor of the postponement of the barangay and SK elections. We have already postponed the election. Let us allow our people the opportunity to choose their local leaders through an open and honest election.”
For his part, Senator Bam Aquino said: “Many people underestimate the capability of the youth to lead, but, in my experience, big changes can come from the youth sector. They are needed by our nation.”
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