LOOK: Senate panel recommends postponement of barangay, SK polls

Camille Elemia
17 senators have so far signed the committee report recommending the postponement of the elections from October 31, 2016 to October 30, 2017

POSTPONEMENT. The Senate committee on local government has recommended the postponement of the 2016 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls to October 2017. File photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Senate committee on local government has recommended the postponement of the 2016 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) polls to next year.

The draft report, which was already circulated among senators, seeks to move the elections from October 31, 2016 to a year after, on October 30, 2017, to give ample time for the government to prepare. 

“The barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on October 31, 2016 shall be postponed to the last Monday of October 2017. Subsequent synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections shall be held every three years thereafter,” the report states.

The panel, alongside the committee on electoral reforms, held a public hearing on Wednesday, August 24, to discuss the matter.

The Commission on Elections requested the panel to give a clear indication by September 1 whether or not Congress would allow the 2016 barangay polls to push through.

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista explained they would start printing ballots and preparing “full speed ahead” by then.

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, chairman of the committee, immediately circulated the draft report in the afternoon of August 24, according to Dennis Legaspi, his chief communication officer.

Legaspi said Angara would likely sponsor the measure in the plenary on Tuesday, August 30. He added they are expecting the bill’s approval on 3rd and final reading by Monday next week, September 5.

Draft of Senate Committee Report on SK Elections Postponement

Senators

Based on the copy obtained by Rappler, 17 senators have so far signed the committee report as of Sunday, August 28:

  1. Juan Edgardo Angara
  2. Leila De Lima, committee on electoral reforms and people’s participation chair
  3. Loren Legarda
  4. Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon
  5. Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III
  6. Minority Leader Ralph Recto – with reservations
  7. Risa Hontiveros – indicated plans to interpellate
  8. Joseph Victor Ejercito
  9. Sherwin Gatchalian 
  10. Richard Gordon – with reservations
  11. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV – indicated plans to interpellate
  12. Panfilo Lacson – indicated plans to interpellate
  13. Manny Pacquiao
  14. Joel Villanueva
  15. Juan Miguel Zubiri
  16. Nancy Binay
  17. Antonio Trillanes IV

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III earlier expressed support for the measure.

“The consensus is to postpone the elections. I believe there are valid reasons to do so,” Pimentel said.

For one, Pimentel said President Rodrigo Duterte has to appoint new officials to man sensitive posts, which would otherwise be banned if the local election pushes through.

“The President cannot appoint officials during the election period. Movement of personnel is also prohibited,” said Pimentel, adding that the ban would affect the administration’s fight against the drug menace.

Counterpart measures

As the measure gears up in the Senate, the bill has also received the nod of the President’s allies in the House of Representatives.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier said he is in favor of proposals to postpone the polls. (READ: ‘Practical’ to postpone barangay, SK elections – Alvarez)

Duterte himself is in favor of this, saying another election would cost the government “millions” of pesos, which he would rather save.

“Well, considering that the executive branch still has to do more appointments – they’re not done with their screening process – I think it’s only practical to postpone the elections because we know that we can’t appoint or remove positions during an election period,” Alvarez earlier said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Duterte’s allies in Congress have sought the postponement to 2018 but senators have only agreed to delay it for a year. They have also deferred the discussion on the more complex topic of term limit extensions of local officials.

The Commission on Elections earlier opposed delaying the elections to 2018, saying it might still be challenging due to the proximity to the 2019 midterm race.

National Youth Commission Chairperson Aiza Seguerra, for her part, opposed the postponement of the elections, as the youth would only end up getting disenfranchised. – Rappler.com