House to pass bill postponing brgy polls to May 2018

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2017 09:55 AM | Updated as of Aug 10 2017 10:03 AM

MANILA - The House of Representative is expected to pass a bill that would move the barangay elections to May 2018, with the incumbent officials serving until then, by month's end, a House leader said Thursday.

The chamber gathered all its members on Monday for a caucus, where they agreed to push it back for 7 months from the supposed October polls.

CIBAC Party-list Representative Sherwin Tugna, chair of the suffrage and electoral reforms committee, said the House, with a supermajority of allies of President Rodrigo Duterte, will pass the bill before August ends to give priority to more pressing measures such as the 2018 budget.

The Senate, he said, is also deliberating on a similar measure and they will have to "harmonize" their versions to seek Duterte's approval.

"I believe the war on drugs and its continuing implementation on the ground is sufficient ground to hold in abeyance or to postpone the elections," Tugna told ANC's Headstart.

"In this case, we are weighing 2 important things in our society: the right to sovereignty and the continuing war on drugs," he added.

Congress, he said, is not "derogating sovereignty" as minority lawmaker Albay Representative Edcel Lagman alleged because they are holding over the position of barangay officials who were given the mandate since 2013.

Duterte last year signed into law the bill postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections originally scheduled for October 2016 after the House and the Senate cited various compelling reasons for it.

Months before that, the chief executive said he is in favor of postponing the polls in the smallest government unit, amid fears that drug money will be used in the elections.

He asked that it be postponed to allow him to purge the ranks of barangay officials tagged in the narcotics trade, which he said accounts for 40 percent of the total.

COMELEC CAN REUSE PRINTED BALLOTS

Tugna said the House is "not oblivious" to the fact it may cost the country millions in the postponement, but he said he has been appraising the Commission on Elections to the goings-on in their chamber regarding the postponement.

The Comelec has printed some 11,000 ballots for the election in Batanes, but Tugna said the agency has been told to "slow down the printing."

He added, the printed ballots may be used in the proposed May 2018 polls since it would not be automated like the national elections.