Macalintal rejects postponement of bgy polls

By Dharel Placido,

Posted at May 21 2013 11:28 AM | Updated as of May 21 2013 08:10 PM

MANILA – An election lawyer on Tuesday questioned the proposal of Commision on Elections (Comelec) Sixto Brillantes Jr. that the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections in October be re-scheduled.

Brillantes on Monday said he would rather have the barangay elections held in October 2014 or January 2015 since the poll body is still busy with the mid-term elections.

But Macalintal said even though Brillantes acknowledged that the poll body has no power to re-schedule the elections and that it will instead endorse a bill to Congress, any law postponing the polls will still violate the Constitution.

"Kahit ang batas na iyan ay lalabag pa rin sa Saligang Batas. Kasi ang ating Kongreso, bagamat binigyan ng kapangyarihan na siya ang magtakda kung kailan magkakaroon ng halalan ang barangay, hindi naman binigyan ng kapangyarihan na mag-extend ng term of office nila," Macalintal told dzMM.

The election lawyer said any postponement will effectively extend the terms of office of all incumbent barangay officials. He said this is in violation of the Constitution because barangay officials need the mandate of the people to enjoy longer stay in their respective posts.

"Pag in-extend mo sila, para mo na ring in-appoint sila, that involves 294,000 appointments," he said.

Macalintal also noted that the Supreme Court had already ruled on this matter way back in 1997 in "David vs Comelec."

The poll lawyer said he is prepared to block before the high court any efforts to postpone the barangay polls.

Barangay polls 'source of headache'

Brillantes, in a separate radio dzMM interview on Tuesday morning, also admitted that the barangay elections have always been a source of headache, with higher ranking local officials taking advantage of the season to widen their political clout.

"Mas maganda kung i-aappoint ang mga officials na iyan, o kaya tanggalin na ang IRA (internal revenue allotment). Kasi ang IRA lang ang pinag-iinitan nila eh," Brillantes said.

Another reason Brillantes gave for proposing the postponement is the heavy workload the poll body expects due to the foreseen barrage of electoral protests.

The poll body chief also said he wants the congressional oversight committee to convene for the assessment of the 2013 mid-term elections, so that the government can prepare better for the much bigger 2016 presidential elections.