MANILA, Philippines – The 9-day campaign period for the village and youth council elections started midnight Friday, May 4, with more than one million candidates vying for positions in more than 42,000 barangays across the country.
The 2018 elections will be the first in 5 years for the barangays and in 8 years for the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) after several laws were passed to postpone the polls. Since 2013, village officials have overstayed, while the youth posts have been vacant since 2013, when the terms of SK members elected in 2010 ended.
Aspiring leaders in the smallest unit of government will be courting voters just after the national government, through the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), released a list of more than 200 barangay officials who are allegedly linked to the drug trade.
PDEA, which admitted the list is not 100% verified, was met with protests about possible violation of the Constitution and human rights. The Liga ng mga Barangay challenged the anti-drug agency to file cases if it has evidence against the officials, instead of brandishing their names without enough evidence against them.
A number of barangays reported not having candidates for the SK. Of the 1,070,991 who filed certificates of candidacy for the exercise, only 386,206 are running for SK posts, the poll body said.
The 2018 elections will test the implementation of the anti-dynasty provision – the first in the country – found in Republic Act 10742 or the SK Reform Act. (OPINION: Practical questions on the Sangguniang Kabataan law’s anti-dynasty provision)
There have also been efforts to raise voters’ standards for candidates beyond the minimum required by law. The Department of the Interior and Local Government has reminded voters to choose candidates who are “matino, mahusay, maasahan” (decent, excellent, reliable). It has also urged the Commission on Elections for compel candidates to publish their resumés or biodata to help voters assess their qualifications.
Barangay and SK officials enjoy privileges and benefits under the Local Government Code. They also get to manage their units’ internal revenue allotments.
The Duterte administration acknowledges how crucial the barangay network is for its anti-drug campaign. The President had pushed for the postponement of the polls in the past supposedly to prevent drug lords from installing candidates friendly to them. Barangays are mandated to form anti-drug abuse councils.
It has also tapped the barangays in pushing for constitutional change to shift to a federal system of government.
The barangay and SK elections campaign will run until May 12, two days before election day on May 14. During this period, several activities are prohibited.
There are also rules that will govern campaign advertisements and materials, as well as the places where candidates can post their paraphernalia. (READ: Places where election campaign posters are prohibited)
Click here for the complete calendar of activities for the barangay and SK elections 2018. – Rappler.com