THE Senate Committee on Local Government, chaired by Sen. Sonny Angara, is set to conduct today a public hearing on legislative measures seeking to reset the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections from October 2016 to October 2018.
Angara himself filed Senate Bill No. 1049 which is aimed at resetting the barangay and SK elections from the original schedule of October 31, 2016 to the last Monday of October 2018.
“If passed, the terms of the barangay officials would be extended to five years from the current three years,” he said. Similar measures were filed by Senators Alan Peter Cayetano (SBN 1037), and Joel Villanueva (SBN 1041).
“As of now, we have four proposals referred to our committee calling for the postponement of the barangay and SK polls. There is an urgent need to consider these measures as we only have less than 70 days before the elections,” said Angara.
Among the invited resource persons are Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno, Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista, National Youth Commission Chairperson Aiza Seguerra, Rafaela Mae David of the SK Reform Coalition, Edmund Abesamis of the Association of Barangay Captains, and Alfonso Umali Jr. of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines.
Angara said the postponement will afford Congress more time to study how the country’s 42,036 barangays could be further empowered, and to possibly pass reforms and amendments to existing laws including the Local Government Code.
“It will also provide a measure of political stability, as the country dives head on into debates on Charter change,” he said.
The Comelec has stated that the polls should be moved to a later date to avoid “election fatigue” in the country following the May 2016 national elections.
President Rodrigo Duterte, however, earlier rejected the proposed deferment of the elections so as to do away with the “overstaying” of barangay officials.
The poll body has started printing the 85 million ballots that will be used for the October barangay and SK polls despite various proposals from Congress to postpone it.
Bautista had said that the Comelec is hoping to receive an “advisory” from Congress not to push through with the elections by the end of August so it can halt the preparations and the money spent would not be wasted.
Republic Act 9164, enacted in 2002, provided for the synchronization of the barangay and SK polls, mandating that the election of barangay and SK officials will be held on the last Monday of October and every three years thereafter.