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Barangay, SK polls postponement won’t solve drug problem — militant solons

Makabayan bloc lawmakers say the postponement of barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections will not address the drug problem in local communities, adding the measure also violates the public's rights to choose their leaders. PAUL JUN E. ROSAROSO/File

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc expressed their concern over the bill seeking to postpone the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in October, saying this measure will not address the drug problem in the country.

With a vote of 213-10, the House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading House Bill 6308. They agreed to postpone it anew to May 2018.

Voting against the bill were members of the Makabayan bloc: ACT Teachers Party-list Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro, Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas, Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate, Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao and Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago.

Reps. Raul del Mar of Cebu, Tom Villarin of Akbayan, Gary Alejano of Magdalo and Ramon Rocamora of Siquijor also voted against the said measure.

READ: House OKs bill postponing barangay, SK polls

Tinio said the government once again used its campaign against illegal drugs to violate the rights of people, noting there is no sense to delay village polls as a means to purge drug lords’ influence in local communities.

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“Wala pong saysay at wala pong katwiran ito dahil kung totoo ang sinasabing drug infested at mga protector ang ilang barangay officials, bakit po i-po-postpone ang eleksyon? Eh di lalo lamang pinanatili sa pwesto nang walang mandato ang mga tinaguriang drug protector o coddler,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte pushed for the postponement of barangay elections as he alleged that 40 percent of barangay officials are involved in the operation of illegal drugs.

He added that the postponement of barangay elections would keep errant officials in office.

“Kung seryoso tayo sa paglaban kontra droga, eh 'di ang wastong hakbang ay pangalanan at sampahan ng kaso ang sinasabing barangay officials at tanggalin sa pwesto. Hindi ‘yung panatilihin sila nang mas matagal pa ng walang mandato,” Tinio said.

"Naniniwala ang representasyong ito na kung may proof ang drug war na ito laban sa 1,684 na barangay heads, dapat ay isampa ang kaso at panagutin sa korte ng batas. Hayaan at pahintulutan natin ang mga sangay ng gobyerno na gumana at gawin ang tungkulin nila sa paghuli at pagpapanagot sa mga lumabag sa batas,” Brosas also said.

Under the consolidated bill passed by the House, incumbent barangay and SK officials will continue to function in a holdover capacity.

The militant lawmakers also believe the second postponement of village polls violates the people’s right to choose their leaders.

“Ito ay lantarang pagyurak sa demokrasya ng mamamayang Pilipino. Kailangang mamili ang mamamayan ng kanilang leader at karapatang bumoto ng mga taong mamumuno sa kanila,” Castro said.

“Huwag na po nating pahabain pa ang pagtitiis at paghihirap ng ating mga barangay at komunidad sa ilalim ng mga ito," Brosas said.

The Senate, meanwhile, recommended the postponement of village polls to October next year.

Last year, the Lower House also approved a similar bill postponing the 2016 barangay and SK elections.

The last village elections were held in 2013.

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