Duterte asks Congress to move barangay, SK polls to 2022

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
Duterte asks Congress to move barangay, SK polls to 2022
In this July 22, 2019 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his State of the Nation Address speech.
Screenshot from RTVM SONA feed

MANILA, Philippines— President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday asked the 18th Congress to reschedule the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls supposed to be held next May.

"I also implore Congress… You — look. You have to study this very carefully. Congress has to postpone the May 2020 elections and ‘yung Barangay, Sangguniang Kabataan to October 2022," Duterte said in his fourth State of the Nation Address speech.

"Because if you read it, this… To rectify the truncated terms. Paiba-iba na eh. The truncated terms of sitting barangays but also provide them with the ample time to finish their programs and projects," he added.

In October 2016, Duterte also signed into law a bill postponing the barangay and SK elections, moving them to Oct. 23, 2017. At the time, the president said the polls needed to be postponed, claiming that 40% of barangay chairpersons were involved in illegal drugs and might use their influence to stay in power.

Two lawmakers have also recently filed bills seeking the postponement of the barangay and SK polls, where village and youth officials are elected.

The barangay and SK elections are supposed to be held on the second Monday of May next year. However, Reps. Faustino Dy (Isabela) and Johnny Pimentel (Surigao) want to move it to a latter date.

Dy wants the elections to be held on the second Monday of May 2023 while Pimentel wants the polls be moved by October 2021.

If Dy's bill is enacted, it would affect more than 670,000 barangay and SK officials in the country’s 41,948 barangays.

Like Duterte, the two lawmakers said moving the election date would prolong the term of service of the village officials.

Magna Carta for Barangays

The president also wants a Magna Carta for the barangay “to promote and ensure its welfare in recognition of its role in society as a basic political unit.”

"I suggest Congress should also enact the Magna Carta for Barangays," he said.

In January 2019, Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel also filed a bill seeking to declare barangay officials as regular government employees enshrined in law. 

Pimentel is hopeful that the measure will give the punong barangay or chairman a salary equivalent to that of a sangguniang bayan member of his municipality or city.

Reacting to Duterte’s proposal, Commission on Elections Director James Jimenez. commission spokesman, said rescheduling the  barangay and SK polls is not under the poll body’s control.

“Because the schedule of the #BSKE is contained in a statute, it can be amended by legislation. This is a question addressed to the discretion of Congress; it's not something the COMELEC controls,” Jimenez said on Twitter.

Unless a law is passed to move the village elections, Comelec is bound to prepare for the polls despite Duterte's pronouncement.

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