ALLOWING President Rodrigo Duterte to appoint officers-in-charge for the barangays on an interim basis is among the provisions cited in the joint Senate electoral reforms and finance committee report that recommended the postponement of the barangay elections.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections has started delivering thousands of certificates of candidacy to its provincial, city and district offices nationwide as the filing of candidacies for the barangay elections begins on Sept. 23 and lasts up to Sept. 30, 2017 despite the plan to suspend the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on Oct. 23, 2017.
The Comelec said the COC must be filed at the Office of the Election Officer of the city, municipality or district where an aspirant seeks to be elected.
The joint resolution, Committee Report 163, written by committee vice chairman Senator Richard Gordon and Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, noted that the inclusion of incumbent barangay officials in the President’s supposed drug list was ‘‘sufficient cause to replace them and appoint OICs in their areas.
“In addition to the other causes under existing laws, the inclusion of the name of an incumbent barangay official in the duly confirmed and validated Drug List provided to and in possession of the President shall constitute sufficient cause for the appointment of officers-in-charge for the barangay,” the draft report says.
The joint resolution seeks to postpone the village elections to Oct. 22, 2018, or the fourth Monday of October next year.
But opposition Senator Bam Aquino insists it is the people and not the President who should choose the next barangay and SK leaders.
“We stand firmly against appointing barangay officials. These leaders should represent the people, serve the people and not to be indebted to Malacañang,” Aquino said.
“We must uphold our democracy and respect the right of the Filipino people to vote and elect their barangay leaders.”
Aquino said the people’s right to choose their leaders through the ballot was a foundation of Philippine democracy that lawmakers must recognize and respect.
“Even if we hold over the current officials before the next elections, at least they have the mandate from the people,” Aquino said.
He wants the barangay and SK polls to push through this October, saying it is long overdue, most especially the implementation of Republic Act 10742 or the SK Reform Act.
“The last SK election was seven years ago. Since then, we’ve reformed the SK and even included an anti-political-dynasty provision. I would personally want to see the SK elections push through to empower our youth leaders,” Aquino said.
As a former student leader and former chairman of the National Youth Commission, Aquino has long advocated for the welfare of the Filipino youth through several legislations, including RA 10742, which he pushed as co-author and co-sponsor during his time as chairman of the Committee on Youth in the 16th Congress
Aquino and his colleagues in the minority bloc did not sign the report, saying it was a violation of the Constitution.
Detained Senator Leila de Lima was the head of the panel but Gordon, as vice chairman, assumed the role.
Aside from Gordon and Sotto, the report was also signed by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate finance committee chairwoman Loren Legarda, Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Nancy Binay,
Senators Cynthia Villar, Panfilo Lacson, Juan Edgardo Angara, Joel Villanueva and Joseph Victor Ejercito signed the report but said they would interpellate or introduce amendments.
The Senate version is different from the House version, which seeks to hold the polls on the 2nd Monday of May 2018 and recommended the hold-over of incumbent officials until the elections are held.
Voting 213-10, the House of Representatives on Sept. 11 overwhelmingly approved on third and final reading House Bill 6308, which seeks to postpone the Oct. 23, 2017 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to the second Monday of 2018.
To reset the synchronized barangay and SK polls, the bill seeks to amend Republic Act 9164, as amended by RA 9340, RA 10656 and RA 10923.
The bill provides that all incumbent barangay and SK officials shall continue to hold office until the next elections are held.
Duterte has pushed for the postponement of the barangay elections and replace incumbent officials with appointive officers-in-charge, claiming that 40 percent of the incumbent barangay captains nationwide are involved in illegal drugs.