Barangay, youth officials to keep posts, again, until 2018 election

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INCUMBENT BARANGAY and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials, who were elected in Oct. 2013, get another round of extended stay in office with the second postponement of the village-level elections that was originally scheduled Oct. 31, 2016.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed into law Republic Act (RA) No. 10952 last Oct. 2 postponing the Oct. 23 Barangay and SK polls. In mid-October last year, he signed another law for the first postponement.

Under RA 9340, synchronized Barangay and SK elections are supposed to be held “on the last Monday of October 2007 and every three (3) years thereafter.”

With the new postponement, the poll is now scheduled on the second Monday of May 2018.

“That the barangay and sangguniang kabataan elections on October 23, 2017 shall be postponed to the second Monday of May 2018. Subsequent synchronized barangay and sangguniang kabataan elections shall be held on the second Monday of May 2020 and every three (3) years thereafter,” RA 10952 reads.

The new law allocates P6.1 billion “as continuing appropriations and shall be used exclusively” for activities relating to the May 2018 elections.

RA 10952 also prohibits the construction of government projects such as barangay-funded roads and bridges 10 days before the election date. The appointment of new employees, creating new positions, giving salary increases and giving promotions are also prohibited, while the Sangguniang Kabataan fund should not be used until the new set of SK officers are elected.

Sought for comment, National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) Secretary-General Eric Jude O. Alvia said in a text message, “We welcome the signing of the law as this will put some certainty on the postponement of the 2017 BSKE (Barangay and SK Elections) and prevent further expenses associated with it.”

“With the new date of the polls, we hope that the time afforded will be utilized productively for the success of the May 2018 polls and discussions associated with the proposed charter amendment,” he added.

NAMFREL has been opposing the postponement, asserting that it “undermines a democratic process instituted to ensure every citizens’ right to choose their leaders and make them accountable.”

Meanwhile, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres D. Bautista issued yesterday a memorandum ordering the general “suspension of all activities” related to the Oct. 23 elections.

“The Commission en Banc will be issuing the necessary Resolutions to effectuate this new law,” Mr. Bautista said in a statement, “In the meantime, we advise all deputized agencies and election partners to immediately begin ramping down their election-related activities and await more detailed instructions and guidelines from the Commission on how to move forward.”

Mr. Duterte — who espouses the appointment of barangay officials, which would require an amendment in existing law — has been against the elections as he claims most village officials are involved in the illegal drug trade and their campaign could be financed by narcotics money. — Rosemarie A. Zamora