Getting their acts together

INSTEAD of finger-pointing and passing blames at each other, the Commission on Elections and the Department of Interior and Local Government should get their acts together and they must remove these so-called multi-termers at the barangays who circumvent the laws just to cling to power even if they knew for themselves they have exceeded the term limits.

It’s done already and out of 26 who have been found overstaying, 12 of them won the Oct. 25 village polls and, worse, they were already proclaimed as “duly-elected barangay chairmen.” But it shouldn’t stop there as there were truly elected candidates who deserve the posts these multi-termers have not relinquished as if they have the monopoly for their own political perpetuity.

As early as September, the DILG submitted a list which contained names of village chiefs serving more than the fixed three-term limits. In response, the poll body came out with Resolution 9077 which “suspended the proclamation of any winning candidate” with over three terms in office but only to reverse it through Resolution 9100 that let the multi-termers’ proclamation as the Comelec explicates that the interior department failed to give those in the list the opportunity to explain why they shouldn’t be included otherwise it would amount to a denial of their right to due process.

DILG chief Jesse Robredo insisted his agency fed the list to Comelec to assist it to fulfill its mandate.
After all, he says, the poll body could easily validate the list since its local election offices have their own list of proclaimed winners at the barangay level during previous elections. Nonetheless, it did not materialize and the proclamation pushed through to the delight of the overstaying barangay chairmen.

According to Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, chairman of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms, it’s the DILG that should be blamed for the mess because it could have prevented the overstaying  village chiefs from seeking for another term if it knows who among them are running beyond the limits stipulated by law.

He adds:  “It is useless to blame the Comelec since it does not have in its possession the records of multiple-termers barangay chairmen who ran in the last elections.”

On one hand, the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE), a poll watchdog composed of practicing lawyers, slammed the Comelec for allowing their proclamation even if their eligibility was under question as it thinks that the “proclaim-now-depose-later” policy might set a precedent for future elections if the controversy is not thoroughly settled.

The ever soft-spoken and low-key Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, (my choice for the top Comelec post since Chairman Jose Melo had already indicated his desire to resign after the successful conduct of automated polls all over the country), says every issue should be settled rather than engaging in unending and unproductive arguments.

Sarmiento says the Comelec will be issuing a resolution in which the DILG can file a complaint based on its list of multi-termers. Then, these multi-termers would be allowed to explain about their status in question before the poll body shall come out with a decision “whether she/he can be unseated without prejudice to other legal actions against him/her.” Arlie Calalo


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