Barbers bill proposes postponement of barangay polls

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Barbers bill proposes postponement of barangay polls
The barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections might be pushed back to 2020 if a bill filed by Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, is signed into law.
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MANILA, Philippines — Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers on Monday filed a bill to postpone barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections until May 2020.
The bill seeks to move the elections to May 25, 2020. Subsequent barangay and SK elections will be held every three years.
Barbers filed House Bill 5359 "to support the President's call" after President Rodrigo Duterte  said he is inclined to appoint barangay officials to keep "narco-politics" out of local elections.
"The local elections is just around the corner. Kung nandyan ito at they can influence the electorate, magkakaroon ng utang na loob itong mga officials, delikado, because, then, you have completed the division of this country into a narco-politics state," Duterte said in a speech last week.
The bill, which will amend Republic Act 9164, will terminate the terms of current barangay officials once passed into law. The bill also authorizes the president to appoint officers-in-charge.
"In support of the President's call to eliminate drugs and corruption among our barangay leaders, the immediate approval of this measure is highly recommended," Barbers said in his explanatory note.
Barangay and SK elections were supposed to be held in October 2016 but were postponed for fear of having candidates using drug money to fund their campaigns. Sen. Leila De Lima, who is detained on drug-related charges, has been accused of using money from convicted drug lords at the New Bilibid Prison to fund her senatorial run.
The president also referred last January to a list submitted by security forces containing at least 2,000 names of barangay captains, mayors, governors, congressmen and some judges allegedly connected to the drug trade.
In October 2016, Duterte said that that list contained 8,000 names.

Local Government Code needs amendment

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, a Duterte ally and party mate, meanwhile, said in an interview with DZBB that the proposal to postpone the elections is "valid."

He admitted that the Local Government Code needs to be amended to allow the president to appoint OICs but said he has already asked his staff to prepare a draft amendment even while Congress is in recess until May 2. Under the Local Government Code, barangay officials are elected. Successors can be appointed for specific reasons like death or removal from office but can only serve unexpired terms. 

The speaker, who leads a supermajority coalition, also believes the House will support the proposal as he has not received any word of opposition to the postponement. He said that Duterte can certify the bill urgent to speed up the legislative process.
Barbers' bill will need a counterpart measure at the Senate, where Duterte ally Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III also leads a supermajority. 
Senators, even those supportive of Duterte, have been wary of postponing the barangay elections.
Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito, a Duterte ally, asked the president over the weekend to consider the "negative effects" of postponing barangay elections again.
“I don’t really want to counter him (Duterte) but (the barangay elections are) very much anticipated by the people, so I think this has to be studied very carefully,” Ejercito told radio dzBB.
Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV said last week that it is important for people to elect their own leaders "especially at the smallest unit of governance, so that our officials are accountable to their constituents and serve the people."
Aquino, who has joined the Senate minority bloc after being ousted for being perceived to be taking positions contrary to the majority, warned that "appointing barangay officials will only strengthen the patronage system in our country." -- Kristian Javier






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