AT LEAST one Cebuano in the House of Representatives favors postponing the barangay and youth elections from this October to next year, as one way to reduce the budget deficit and give barangay officials more time to improve basic services.

Three others said they still have to consult their barangay leaders and other constituents.

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“The synchronized election last May 10 is too close to the barangay election scheduled on Oct. 25. The expenses in holding a barangay election will be huge. The barangay election must be postponed to give the Aquino administration enough time to adjust the country’s finances,” said Rep. Benhur Salimbangon (Cebu Province, 4th district).

He thinks the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections should be moved to October or November 2011.

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri filed last week a bill to postpone the barangay and SK elections to October 2012, which, if approved, will be the first term extension for those elected in 2007.

He said the postponement will save the government nearly P4 billion, or nearly one-third the amount spent in the May 2010 elections.

Reps. Rachel del Mar (Cebu City, north) and Pablo John Garcia (Cebu Province, 3rd district) said they still have to consult their barangay leaders and other constituents.

Del Mar said some barangay captains and councilors have told her they want the barangay elections postponed.

She said they did not mention specific reasons but “maybe because they have already worked hard during the recent election, that’s why they want it to be postponed.”

“And I will support whatever they want,” she said.

Garcia said he has not decided if he is in favor or against the postponement because he has yet to consult the barangay leaders in the district.

Timing

However, he thinks it’s likely that what happened in 2007 may be repeated, when the Lower House passed a bill to postpone the barangay elections, but the Senate defeated it.

The barangay and SK elections were last held in October 2007, also five months after a local and congressional election.

In a general assembly of Cebu City’s Association of Barangay Captains last June 29, Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south) said it would be better for their allies if the elections will push through this October.

The former mayor clarified, though, that he will go along with what the barangay captains want and lobby for it in Congress.

Cebu’s other House representatives were unavailable to comment yesterday.

Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano earlier explained that under the law, the barangay election must be held every third Monday of October every three years.

Salimbangon said postponing the barangay election this year will mean big savings for the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, which has to deal with a huge public sector deficit.

He also said a postponement will ensure the continuity of ongoing barangay projects.

Former finance secretary Margarito Teves recently said the budget deficit stood at P165 billion as of June 2010 and that there is a need to improve collection or raise taxes.

Comelec, however, is proceeding with preparations for the elections in October.

“Everything is clear and we will be able to conduct the barangay elections on Oct. 25,” said the Cebu City north district election officer, Atty. Marchel Sarno. (EOB/PDF/RRF/With ETB)