IT NOW appears like the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections would be postponed after all, what with President Rodrigo Duterte and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez saying they favor the postponement and majority of the senators also giving it a thumbs up.
We know how powerful Duterte's voice is in the House of Representatives where the administration coalition composes a “super majority.” And while senators may be seen as independent, majority of them are signing a Senate committee on local governments recommendation that wants the elections postponed, too.
The Senate's stand is based on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) suggestion that the holding of the barangay and SK polls be properly spaced, which means that it should be held a year and not only a few months after the national and local polls.
Thus, the Senate committee is pushing for the postponement of the polls from Oct. 31 this year to the last Monday of October 2017. “Subsequent synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections shall be held every three years thereafter,” it added.
The other argument, the most common used by every administration, is to save money that could be spent for other important concerns. But Alvarez, perhaps to be different, said that postponing the barangay and SK polls would allow Duterte to continue filling up vacancies in government. The Omnibus Election Code prohibits the President from appointing new employees, creating new positions and doing other similar acts 45 days before the regular polls and 30 days before special polls.
The President added his own take, one that is consistent with his anti-illegal drugs crusade. He expressed the worry that drug money would flow during the barangay and SK elections, allowing those with links to illegal drugs to win. “...(A)t kailangan mo na mag-martial law to eliminate all. Which I will never do in the first place," he added.
As for the money saved, the President said he would use it for the anti-drugs drive, like funding the construction or improvement of drug rehabilitation centers.
Whatever the reason used to justify the move, one conclusion that can be had on this is that in this administration of “pagbabago,” the more things change, the more they stay the same. The barangay and SK elections are still not given the importance they deserve.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 30, 2016.
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