Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III believes there is no reason to postpone the barangay elections scheduled in May 2018.
Pimentel was reacting to two bills currently pending at the House of Representatives seeking to postpone the barangay elections.
Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel’s House Bill No. 7072 seeks to move the election to October this year while Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali’s House Bill No. 7167 wants to hold the barangay elections in May 2019 instead.
“Wala nga akong maisip eh kaya nga hindi ako nag-file ng postponement. Kasi kung may maisip talaga ako na reason, ipapa-postpone ko rin pero wala eh. I mean handa na yata lahat. Handa na ang COMELEC. Handa na rin yung mga nakaupo, handa na rin ang botante. Yung mga ayaw nila yung kanilang kapitan, gusto na nila ng halalan para mapalitan,” he told reporters during a chance interview before the Senate plenary session on Monday.
Senator Franklin Drilon said Rep. Umali’s bill clearly indicates that they want to hold the plebiscite simultaneously with the barangay elections.
“So really there’s a serious effort to postpone the barangay election and piggyback the constitutional amendments, which, obviously, will be railroaded in that kind of timetable,” he said.
But Drilon said the Senate is still holding hearings on the issue of constitutional amendments. The Senate constitutional amendments committee held an out-of-town hearing in Cagayan de Oro last week and intends to hold more out-of-town hearings.
Drilon also noted that the consultative committee on Charter change is scheduled to submit its recommendations 10 days before the President’s State of the Nation Address, where he is expected to announce the proposed amendments.
“The only way to do it is to railroad it. Remember that the plebiscite cannot be held earlier than 60 days after the approval of the amendments nor later than 90 days – that’s in the Constitution. Again this tightens the timetable very much,” he explained.
Both senators agreed there is not enough time to pass a bill postponing the conduct of the barangay elections, noting that there’s barely a month left before both chambers of Congress pause for a Holy Week break. Session won’t resume until May.
“Alam mo naman sa House kaya nila ipasa yan in one day. Pasa nila agad sa amin. Dito sa Senate mabigat na diskusyon po yan. Kasi yung last postponement nahirapan na kami na ilusot eh,” Pimentel said.
The barangay elections had been postponed twice since President Duterte took office – in October 2016 and October 2017.