MANILA, Philippines - Calls to reset the October 2013 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) are gaining ground as lawmakers filed separate bills for their postponement to varying dates.
The latest to seek such postponement of the polls is Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Treñas, who filed House Bill 6005 resetting the elections to the last Monday of October 2015, which is five years after the last barangay polls.
Treñas, chairman of the House committee on good government and public accountability, took notice of a Supreme Court comment in the case of Occeña vs. Comelec that “there are good reasons for insulating the barangay from the divisive and debilitating effects of a partisan political campaign, as the barangay captain and the barangay council also act as agencies for neutral community actions such as distribution of basic necessities, conducting plebiscites and settling local disputes.”
He said the High Tribunal was right when it noted that “it would definitely enhance the objective and impartial discharge of their duties for barangay officials to be shielded from political loyalty.”
Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco authored HB 5987, which seeks to reset the barangay and SK elections from Oct. 29, 2013 to Oct. 27, 2014.
Syjuco’s bill also proposed that the term of office of all barangay and SK officials should be five years instead of the current three years.
Earlier, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone filed House Bill 5794 that resets the barangay and SK polls to May 2014 and every four years thereafter.
Likewise, Cebu Rep. Rachel Marguerite del Mar filed House Bill 5750 resetting the barangay and SK polls to the last Monday of October 2014 and every three years thereafter.
A separate measure, House Bill 5962, authored by Reps. Guillermo Romarate Jr. (Surigao del Norte), Francisco Matugas (Surigao del Norte), Philip Pichay (Surigao del Sur), Florencio Garay (Surigao del Sur), Evelyn Mellana (Agusan del Sur), Ma. Valentina Plaza (Agusan del Sur), Ma. Angelica Amante-Matba (Agusan del Norte) and Jose Aquino II (Agusan del Norte), calls for the resetting of the October 2013 polls to the second Monday of May 2015.
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Abante party-list Rep. Maximo Rodriguez Jr. also proposed the resetting of the said elections to the last Monday of October 2015.
“For a country whose budget deficit was estimated by the President to reach a record high of P349 billion by the end of the year, P3.6 billion (spent in 2010) is too high a price to spend on barangay elections,” Rodriguez said.
He noted that elections in the Philippines are always a costly exercise, both for the candidate and the government.
As scheduled, the next barangay and SK elections shall be held five months after the 2013 senatorial and local elections.
“Elections, whether national, local or barangay, prove to be divisive among the populace specially coming on the heels of the very divisive May 10, 2010 polls,” he said, adding that the three-year term of barangay officials is too short for the unity and stability in barangay leadership and affairs.
He said a two-year extension would ensure stability in the barangay level so that the programs initiated by the current leaders would come to fruition.