Friday , April 27, 2018

Seares: ABC issue ‘settled’ in Senate bill

PEOPLE are speculating about whether the the barangay election bill President Duterte still had to sign provides for the right of holdover to ex-officio members in local legislatures. The question was raised by BOPK’s demand for ABC chief Philip Zafra to step down from Cebu City Council.

Even the local Department of Interior & Local Government (DILG) asked contending political camps to wait for the law. As of Sept. 27, the Palace still hadn’t received the enrolled bill and in the Senate online update yesterday, that was still “being prepared.”

Zafra till 2018

Senate Bill #1584 -- which the House under House Bill #6308 adopted en toto, thus doing away with the bicameral conference -- postpones the barangay and youth elections until May 2018 and provides for the right of all barangay captains to stay in their posts unless sooner removed or suspended for cause.

And it also grants the right to hold over to all ex-officio members in the town, city and province legislatures until their successors are elected and qualified.

And, hear this, you guys who argue over when the next ABC elections will be held. Not on or before Nov. 30, as DILG had ordered, but, under the coming law, only after the next barangay elections, meaning only after May 14 next year.

So there. Zafra, though his term expired June 30, 2016 yet, cannot be evicted unless he is sued and ordered removed or suspended for a lawful cause.


But it assumes that Senate Bill #1584 (which, it must be noted again, the House adopted) is the same bill the president would sign. Wait, is that even possible, that what seems to be the wrong version of the bill, posted on the Senate website, would be the version in the enacted law?

No, silly. What the president would sign would be the enrolled copy. What’s online, apparently the result of negligence or neglect, wont be the same as the enrolled copy.

OICs, narco list

But one can see why the OIC idea was struck down quickly without much noise by both sides. The provision would’ve given the president, through the executive secretary, the power to appoint officers-in-charge. But, more scary, was the fiat that if any barangay official is in the president’s “Drug List,” it shall be “sufficient cause” for him to be ousted and replaced with an OIC. The provision would’ve stripped a drug suspect of his elective office without trial and on the mere say-so of a list that he cannot dispute.

The law, the law

The speculations that DILG deplores could’ve been avoided had Congress promptly acted on the bill and the parties concerned had been given full information. (Even DILG and the Liga ng Barangay national executive board weren’t sure about the precise text of the would-be law. And media reports missed some crucial points.)

The republic act signed by the president may end the dispute over Zafra’s post and the lobby for ABC elections earlier than what the would-be law says: only after the new barangay elections next year.

And it will assure the public that the Senate website is just having a glitch and the text of SB #1584 that’s up there is not the same as the enrolled bill the president was to sign.