Solons seek postponement of Barangay and SK polls

LAWMAKERS are seeking the postponement of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in October 2013 to insulate Barangay and KB officials from partisan politics.

They believe that the postponement of the 2013 Barangay and SK elections is now “a matter of necessity.”

There are about a dozen separate bills now for consideration by the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms chaired by Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Jr., (Lone District, City of Dasmariñas). These include House Bill 6198 authored by Rep. Rene Relampagos (1st District, Bohol) and House Bill 5794 filed by Rep. Ben Evardone (Lone District, Eastern Samar).

All related measures seek the postponement of the polls but differ on the dates. Relampagos proposed that the elections be held instead on the last Monday of October 2014 and every five years thereafter while Evardone preferred the last Monday of May 2014 and every four years thereafter.

Evardone explained that the principle of insulating the elections from partisan politics holds true despite the Constitutional mandate to synchronize elections, noting that there will be two elections in 2013, the congressional and local elections (May 2013) and the October Barangay and SK polls.

Since 1987, Evardone said bills have been filed seeking postponement or resetting of the polls to a later date for various reasons, all of them equally plausible and persuasive.  “Invariably, the non-partisan character of the barangay and SK polls has been the turning point in the long-drawn debate.”

Relampagos argued that the present three year term of the barangay officials is not adequate to guarantee that the projects of the barangay are properly implemented.

“Hence, an extension of two years would be practical to make certain that these programs and projects initiated will be carried out to completion,” Relampagos said.

The indispensable role of the barangay and SK officials in the effort of the government at providing, among others, public order and safety, health and sanitation, including the delivery of basic services, are no longer a subject of debate, the lawmakers said.

Even during the defunct Batasang Pambansa, then Minister of State for Political Affairs Leonardo Perez said lawmakers “must not lose sight of the fact that the barangay is the basic unit not only of our social structure but also of our political structure.  As much as possible, we believe that it would be a more prudent policy to insulate the barangays from the influence of partisan politics.”

Records would show that since 2010 to 2011, there had been more than two dozen measures, bills and House Joint Resolutions filed to effect the postponement, but due to pressing circumstances were tabled by the House committee until the move was revived in subsequent bills filed this year.

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