Senate OKs bill postponing barangay polls, rejects appointment of OICs

Camille Elemia
Only minority Senator Risa Hontiveros opposes the measure, saying it is 'motivated only by the President's desire to have full control over the barangays'

POSTPONED. The Senate approves the bill postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to May 2018.

MANILA, Philippines – Voting 17-1, the Senate approved on 3rd and final reading the bill seeking to postpone the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections from October 23, 2017 to May 14, 2018.

The final Senate version approved on Wednesday, September 20, did not include the provision allowing President Rodrigo Duterte to appoint officers-in-charge (OICs) in the barangays – same with the House version.

The committee report prepared by Senator Richard Gordon earlier allowed it, saying that inclusion of incumbent officials in Duterte’s supposed drug list is “sufficient” reason to be replaced.

The final version allows incumbent officials to occupy their posts until the next elections, contrary to the President’s wishes. (READ: Why Duterte’s plan to appoint barangay officials violates the Constitution)

Only minority Senator Risa Hontiveros opposed the measure, saying it is “motivated only by the President’s desire and intent to have full control over the barangays.”

“And finally, I vote no because, unlike this administration, I have confidence that our citizens would use their right to vote to choose the leaders who will serve them best,” Hontiveros said.

Opposition senators earlier said they would oppose the measure, especially if it would allow the appointment of OICs, saying that would be one step closer to nationwide martial law.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon explained he voted yes because the appointment provision was removed.

“The majority in this chamber accepted our amendments on Section 3 in this bill,” Drilon, a member of the Liberal Party (LP), said.

“If the President is given power to appoint OICs as originally provided, the President would have been given the power of control over the basic local government unit, the barangays,” he added.

The House of Representatives earlier approved a similar measure. Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said he will now request House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas to just adopt the Senate version so there would be no need for a bicameral conference committee.

Sotto, Alvarez, and Fariñas are meeting with Duterte on Wednesday night for the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac) meeting in Malacañang. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com