ISABELA, Negros Occidental -- Surigao del Norte Second District Representative Robert Ace Barbers said Wednesday, September 5, the approval of the House of Representatives to postpone the village and youth polls from October this year to May 2018 is expected next week.

Barbers was here as guest of honor at the groundbreaking ceremony of Patrick Arroyo Montilla Jr. National High School, formerly called Tinongan National High School.

The lawmaker said the House of Representatives was supposed to conduct a debate about the village polls postponement Wednesday, but instead the members decided to discuss the budget during the plenary session.

Barbers filed a bill postponing the village elections and also proposed that the village officials be appointed.

He said they held a caucus last Tuesday and majority of the lawmakers have agreed to postpone it until the elections next year, but with the current officials on a hold-over capacity.

“I am hoping that the committee report can be submitted this week so that we can approve on third reading on Monday the postponement of the barangay polls,” Barbers added.

“The fact remains that 40 percent of the total 42,000 barangays in the Philippines are affected by illegal drugs,” he pointed out.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has postponed the conduct of village and Youth Council elections in Mindanao this year.

Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said Tuesday, September 5, that the Comelec en banc decided to defer the local polls because of the continued imposition of martial law in the region.

"The commission today (Tuesday) promulgated an 11-page resolution resolving the question of postponement in the affirmative; the BSKE2017 in Mindanao has been postponed, citing the existence of lawless violence and rebellion which formed the basis for the declaration of martial law in the area," he said in a statement.

The Comelec conducted a public hearing on August 15 and it "found sufficient basis to postpone" the local polls.

"The Comelec cited the existence of lawless violence and rebellion, which formed the basis for the declaration of martial law in the area," Jimenez said.

Section 5 of Batas Pambansa 881 authorizes the Comelec to postpone elections when conditions, such as violence and terrorism, exist which make it impossible to conduct "free, orderly, and honest elections."

The poll body said that incumbent officials will be allowed to remain in office.

"Barangay (Village) officials shall remain in office despite the postponement and shall continue to be the choice of the electorate," the decision added. (with reports from PNA)