House approves Barangay and SK polls postponement bill


20 March 2018  The House of Representatives, voting 211-29 without abstention, approved on third and final reading on Monday House Bill 7378, seeking to postpone the May 14, 2018 synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to the second Monday of October 2018.

To implement the polls resetting, the bill seeks the amendment of Republic Act No. 9164, as amended by RA 9340, RA 10656, RA 10923, and RA 10952.

The proposed election date is actually on October 8, the second Monday of October 2018. The Barangay and SK elections had been postponed twice, from October 2016 to October 2017 and then to May 2018.

The bill also provides that subsequent synchronized Barangay and SK polls shall be held on the second Monday of October 2021 and every three years thereafter.

Moreover, the term of office of the Barangay and SK officials elected under the proposed Act shall commence at noon of November 30 next following their election. Meanwhile, the term of office of Barangay and SK officials elected in the October 2021 elections and subsequently thereafter, shall start at noon of November 30 next following their election.

Until their successors shall have been duly elected and qualified, all incumbent Barangay officials shall remain in office, unless sooner removed or suspended for cause.

Barangay officials who are ex-officio members of the Sangguniang Bayan, Sangguniang Panlungsod, or Sangguniang Panlalawigan, as the case may be, shall continue to serve as members in the Sanggunian concerned until the next barangay election.

The Liga ng mga Barangay at the municipal, city, and provincial levels shall, not later than December 31, 2018, conduct elections for ex-officio positions in the Sanggunian under the supervision of the Department of Interior and Local Government.

The Commission on Elections shall, within 15 days after the effectivity of the Act, promulgate such rules and regulations necessary to implement the Act.

Rep. Jose Panganiban, Jr., one of the authors of HB 7378, said the proposal to postpone the Barangay and SK elections was raised in anticipation of a referendum or plebiscite over the impending debate on amending or revising the 1987 Constitution from unitary to a federal form of government.

“This representation seeks to hold the Barangay and SK elections on the same date as the plebiscite or referendum on the new form of government,” said Panganiban, chairman of the House committee on agriculture and food.

Rep. Reynaldo Umali, said postponing anew the Barangay and SK polls would give Congress more time to determine the proper structure of the government when it transitions into a federal system.

“The government has been pushing for a shift to a federal form of government as a means to address issues, particularly in strife-torn Mindanao,” said Umali, chairman of the committee on justice.

Rep. Johnny Pimentel, also an author of the bill, said the planned Barangay and SK elections must be properly conducted to give the electorate the best opportunity to exercise their right of suffrage.

“Given the coordination costs and expenses of organizing the elections, it is suggested to give the Comelec and other involved agencies additional time to further ensure credible and effective barangay elections,” said Pimentel, chairman of the committee on good government and public accountability.

Another author, Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, said the poll postponement would allow the incumbent barangay officials to continue implementing the plans and programs of the current administration.

“This would allow non-disruption of the different programs of the barangays, especially infrastructure development. It would also strengthen the peace and security programs of the government through the continuous involvement of the barangay,” said Sarmiento.

The bill was epolndorsed for plenary approval by the committee on suffrage and electoral reforms chaired by Rep. Sherwin Tugna. (WBundang)

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