THE Senate yesterday approved on third and final reading a bill that seeks to postpone the upcoming October 2016 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to give way to necessary reforms that will improve the institutions’ ability to serve its constituents.
With 20 affirmative votes and two negative votes, Senate Bill No. 1112 was the first bill to be approved for the 17th Congress.
The measure was primarily sponsored and authored by Senate Committee on Local Government Chairman Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny”Angara, and coauthored by Senators Leila de Lima, Alan Peter Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Joel Villanueva, Cynthia Villar and Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri.
Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said the passage of the bill complemented a similar move in the House of Representatives where congressmen have approved their own version of the proposed measure.
According to Angara, the measure aims to move the twin elections, originally set on October 31 this year, to the fourth Monday of October, or October 23, 2017.
In the meantime the terms of incumbent and SK officials will be extended “for a year unless they are removed or suspended from office.”
De Lima, who chairs the Senate Electoral Reforms Committee, said this measure, once enacted into law, will give more time for local officials to implement their projects and programs in their respective localities.
Minority Leader Ralph Recto said he voted against the postponement of the SK and barangay polls because the reasons cited by other senators such as lack of funds would still exist by next year. In fact, he said, the government would be spending more than the current P7 billion needed to hold the SK and barangay polls this year.
For her part, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said she was against the postponement of the SK poll because it would send “the wrong signal that the government is not sincere in including the youth in governing the country.”
House bill also passed
The House of Representatives also approved on third and final reading its version of the barangay and SK elections postponement bill.
After the nominal voting, 218 lawmakers voted in favor of the bill and four against.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is the principal author of House Bill 3384.
Chairman of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms Rep. Sherwin Tugna said the measure is the same with the Senate version.
“No more bicam meeting. We approved Exactly the same version,” Tugna said in an interview.
Under the measure, the elections will be moved from October 2016 to October 2017.
Likewise, the bill contains a hold-over provision meaning the incumbents will remain in their position for another year unless President Rodrigo Duterte ordered their removal and replacement with officers-in-charge.
According to Tugna, the Congress leaders want the postponement in line with the administration’s move to get rid of barangay chairpersons allegedly coddling drug suspects and tolerating drug operations.