Monday July 16, 2018

Malilong: Of postponement and holdover

THE barangay and youth elections will no longer be held next month as previously scheduled but in May 2018. The postponement has become a certainty after the House of Representatives decided to adopt the final Senate version of the bill, the passage of which President Duterte certified as urgent. Yesterday, SunStar reported that the president is expected to sign the measure. He has probably done so by the time you read this.

The House of Representatives initially wanted to give Duterte the authority to appoint replacements but retreated after the Senate balked. Incumbent barangay officials will instead be allowed to continue holding office in a holdover capacity.

But will holdover also apply in favor of the president of the association of barangay councils who sits in the city or municipal council or the provincial board of his local government unit as ex-officio member? That was the issue that Cebu City Councilor Bebs Andales raised during their session the other day. Bebs argued that the current ABC president, Philip Zafra, lost his membership in the council after his term expired last year.

Andales’s motion was therefore one year late but since the right to hold a public office does not ripen by laches or prescription, if you pardon the legalese, the BOPK councilor’s question was still in order. Or could he have just waited a few months more?

Maybe the case of Zafra has a particular urgency to the administration because his continued presence means the BOPK councilors are the minority, a situation Mayor Tomas Osmeña said, after his group wrested the majority in the council, impacts the execution of his policies and programs.

But even without Zafra, the council would still be controlled by Team Rama (or however they call their group now). Yes, the membership will be evenly divided between the two rival groups at eight members apiece but the vice mayor, who is charged with the duty to break a tie, is Edgar Labella, who although known for his level-headedness, is expected to side with his party mates when push comes to shove.

My sources say the BOPK are banking on an election of a replacement being held immediately. The name of Franklin Ong is being mentioned as the the party’s nominee. But majority of the city’s village chiefs continue to be allied with Team Rama. The odds do not favor Ong.

Besides, all the current barangay captains in the city, for that matter, the entire country, have expired terms and, like Zafra, are merely holdovers. If Zafra is no longer eligible to sit as ex-officio councilor for that reason, then no one else is.

Maybe, that’s why Andales withdrew his motion. As the Tagalogs love to say, ilang tulog na lang, Bebs. Patience, my friend.