IN OUR column last Saturday, I cited various laws regarding the postponement of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections from the original law, Republic Act 9164 (passed in 2002) as amended by RA 9340. Then there is RA 10923, RA 10656 and RA 10632.
Bando Osmena Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) is doing some political maneuvering to oust ABC president Felix Zafra as ex-officio member of the Cebu City Council, claiming his term expired last June 2016. BOPK wanted to conquer the majority in the council. The common denominator of these laws is the provision on “hold over.” And based on my research, the forthcoming law (Senate version), which will reset again the October 23 Barangay and SK elections to the second Monday of May 2018, still carries that provision on hold over capacity. The House of Representatives adopted the Senate version.
But let me be clear on this that the postponement of the Oct. 23 Barangay and SK elections is not yet a law because it has not been signed by the President. In fact, in the absence of any law, the Commission on Elections has set the election period to start yesterday, Oct. 1, until the end of the month. And what is in the draft of the forthcoming law? It states in Section 3: “The hold over provision of Republic Act 9164 as amended in RA 9340 shall remain applicable and in full force and effect and effect under this Act.”
Now, what is this provision that the new law is citing from the original laws that had been passed and amended? In Section 5 of RA 9340 it says: “Hold over - All incumbents of barangay and all SK officials shall remain in office unless sooner removed or suspended for cause until their successors shall have been elected and qualified: Provided, however, that barangay and SK officials who are ex-officio members of the Sangguniang Bayan, Sangguniang Panlungsod or Sangguniang Panlalawigan, as the case may be, shall continue to serve as members in the Sanggunian concerned until the next barangay election. The Liga ng mga Barangay at the municipal, city and provincial levels shall within thirty days after the next barangay election, conduct elections for ex-officio positions in the sanggunians under the supervision of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.”
It will be the National Executive Board of the Liga ng mga Barangay who will call and set the election. The law that has been cited by the “former political has been,” who claimed he “almost memorized” it, is in Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of the Philippines. Section 494 of the LCG states: “Ex-officio Membership in Saggunians - the duly elected presidents of the liga at the municipal, city and provincial levels, including the component cities and municipalities of Metropolitan Manila - shall serve as ex-officio members of the Sangguniang Bayan, Sangguniang Panglungsod, Sangguniang Panlalawigan, respectively. They shall serve as such only during their term of office as presidents of the liga chapters, which in no case shall be beyond the term of office of the sanggunian concerned.”
According to some legal luminaries, this provision is very vague. Atty. Checking Seares, in his series of columns last week, said that this issue has been settled by the Supreme Court in the case of Raul Galarosa vs. RTC Judge Eudarlio Valencia in 1993, and former chief Justice Helario Davide Jr. penned the decision.
Can the ABC ex-officio hold over pending the elections of a new president? Yes, the decision said. It is not just a case of memorizing the law, it is how you interpret the law and make sure it has not been superseded by a recent law or decided by the High Tribunal. In this case, which law will prevail? That provision in the LGC approved in 1991 or the passage of new laws regarding barangay elections or a Supreme Court jurisprudence?
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on October 02, 2017.
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