19th Congress seen to prioritize deferring barangay polls, pass 'BBM' stimulus package

Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 20 2022 02:46 PM

MANILA — With 2 months before the official opening of the 19th Congress, the House of Representatives is eyeing postponing the upcoming barangay elections in December to save funds for a renamed stimulus bill.

Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, who is being pushed to be the next Speaker, shared these priority measures during a lunch meeting with PDP-Laban in Mandaluyong City on Thursday.

“‘Yun po ang isang hinaing po ng mga barangay chairpersons na na-meet natin sa Liga ng mga Barangay so we shall consider that,” said Romualdez.

(That is one of the complaints of the barangay chairpersons that we met in Liga ng mga Barangay so we shall consider that.)

"If that will be taken up, dapat immediately dahil Disyembre na ho ang barangay elections. Those will be one of the items sa priority agenda… Dapat ilagay din natin iyan under sa priority list under consideration,” he added.

(If that will be taken up, it should be immediate because the barangay elections are already scheduled in December. We should also put that under the priority list under consideration.)

During the campaign, presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said he plans to revisit the term periods of officials in the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), the smallest political units in the Philippines, should he become the next president.

He said barangay and SK terms could be fixed at 5 years instead of the current 3 years.

The barangay elections have been postponed thrice since 2016, with the last law moving the polls to December 2022.

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Romualdez said postponing the barangay polls would give the government more than P8 billion in savings that could fund a stimulus package.

“Magkakaroon tayo ng savings na [We can save] 8.141 billion pesos that we can deploy for the COVID response and for the economic stimulus, the ayuda [aid] and all that the country needs especially those suffering from the pandemic,” he said. 

“We are trying to make sure that the priority legislation of the incoming president BBM will be aided and supported with the measures that will allow him to pursue his agenda,” he added.

The stimulus package is set to be named after Marcos’ initials.

Romualdez said the stimulus package "would allow the incoming president to harness the resources available to him during this closing period of 2022 and address the measure that are needed for the pandemic, hopefully the endemic stage of this COVID.”

Romualdez said he is glad that as early as now major political parties have given their support for his speakership.

“We can already, even before the SONA, start working. In fact already start drafting all of these bills and measures even before we convene on July 25 as the 19th Congress,” he said.

Officials and members of the PDP-Laban were among the latest political parties openly endorsing Romualdez for speakership with PDP-Laban President and Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi present during the lunch meeting at a hotel in Mandaluyong City hosted by San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan Rep. Rida Robes.

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