Mindanao martial law won't be used to postpone village polls: Lorenzana
MANILA - The extension of martial law in Mindanao will not be used to further delay barangay elections in the southern region, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told Congress Wednesday.
"Hindi po, hindi namin gagamitin 'yan," he told lawmakers after Sen. Francis Escudero asked if the extension of martial law will be used to postpone the barangay elections scheduled next year.
President Rodrigo Duterte is seeking to extend for another year the martial law declaration over Mindanao to quell the lingering terror threat in the area and the continuing communist insurgency.
This would further lengthen the first extension Congress had granted Duterte in July, when his initial 60-day declaration was to lapse.
The President had declared martial rule in May when firefights between state forces and Islamic State-linked terrorists erupted in Marawi City. The period of extension is supposed to end on Dec. 31.
Barangay elections are scheduled in May 2018 following two postponements. The filing of certificates of candidacy for the 2019 midterm elections, meanwhile, is scheduled for October 2018.
"We see no reason why the barangay elections will not push through," said Lorenzana.
"Case to case basis na po 'yun, kung anong mangyayari man. Kung may mga violent incidents diyan na it will prevent the electorate to go to the polls, then that will be an exception...We will advise the Comelec accordingly if that happens," he added.
Escudero noted that under the Omnibus Election Code, the Commission on Elections is empowered to postpone the elections "for any serious cause such as violence, terrorism, loss or destruction."
Elections can also be reset within 30 days after the cessation of terrorism or threat of rebellion or lawless violence, he said.