PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte was amenable to proposal for another suspension of village and youth council elections, if Congress sees the need for such deferment, Malacañang said Tuesday, March 13.
"The President said he defers to the wisdom of Congress in this regard. He has expressed a preference that it should proceed. But if Congress so decides, then he will respect the decision to postpone it anew," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. told Palace reporters.
"Now, I understand the developments are in the House and I'm not sure if there is any development at all in the Senate," he added.
The House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms voted 15-2 on Monday, March 12, to further postpone the village and youth council elections.
The panel also voted 17-0 to move the twin polls from the second Monday of May, or May 14, to the second Monday of October, or October 8, 2018.
It would be the third time the village and youth council elections will be postponed, should Congress push for it and Duterte sign a new law.
The local elections were initially scheduled on October 31, 2016 but Duterte signed Republic Act (RA) 10923, moving it to October 23, 2017, for fear that village executives connected with drug syndicates will win.
Less than a month before the 2017 local elections, the President once again signed RA 10952, re-scheduling it to the second Monday of May 2018.
Representative Reynaldo Umali, who filed a bill seeking to move the election date again, said this would allow Congress to focus on revising the 1987 Constitution. The Duterte administration is pushing for a shift to a federal state of government.
On March 1, Duterte denied any hand in the possible postponement of elections, but threatened to kill aspiring village executives who are proven to be involved in narcotics trade if they win another term. (SunStar Philippines)