House approves postponement of barangay, SK polls postponement to 2018

The October 23, 2017 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections have been postponed anew

Voting 213-10, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill 6308 which seeks to postpone the October 23, 2017 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to the second Monday of May 2018.

To reset the synchronized barangay and SK polls, the bill seeks to amend Republic Act No. 9164, as amended by RA No. 9340, RA No. 10656 and RA No. 10923.

The bill provides that all incumbent barangay and SK officials shall continue to hold office until the next elections is held.

Section 3 of the bill titled Hold Over provides that “Until their successors shall have been duly elected and qualified, all incumbent barangay officials shall remain in office, until sooner removed or suspended for cause.”

Section 1 of RA No. 9164, as amended by RA Nos. 9340, 10656, and 10923, has been further amended to read as follows:

“Section 1. Date of Election. – There shall be synchronized barangay and sangguniang kabataan elections, which shall be held on July 15, 2002. Subsequent synchronized barangay and SK elections shall be held on the last Monday of October 2007 and every three years thereafter: Provided, That the barangay and SK elections on October 23, 2017 shall be postponed to the second Monday of May 2018. Subsequent synchronized barangay and SK elections shall be held on the second Monday of May 2020 and every three years thereafter.”

The measure further provides the following:

“Section 4. Assumption of Office. – The term of office of the barangay and SK officials elected under this Act shall commence at noon of June 30 next following their election: Provided, however, That the term of office of the barangay and sangguniang kabataan officials elected in the May 2010 elections and subsequently thereafter, shall commence at noon of June 30 next following their election.”

Furthermore, the bill states:

“Section 4. Use of Appropriations. – The following appropriations for the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) shall be considered as continuing appropriations and shall be used exclusively for the conduct of the barangay and SK elections:

(a) the available balance of P901,150,000 appropriated for the SK elections and P155,167,000 appropriated for the SK registration under Republic Act No. 10651, otherwise known as “The FY 2015 General Appropriations Act”; and

(b) the available balance of P5,914,992,000 for the SK and barangay elections and P422,734,000 appropriated for the SK and barangay registration under Republic Act No. 10717, otherwise known as “The FY 2016 General Appropriations Act.”

Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (2nd District, Surigao del Norte), a principal author of the bill, said it is paramount to postpone the barangay and SK elections this year in support of President Duterte’s call to reset the polls because he does not want those financed by druglords to win. Moreover, the President said that if the barangay polls will proceed, the winners might be financed by drug money, said Barbers.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, on the other hand welcomed the measure’s passage, saying “We support the President in his desire to postpone the barangay elections this October. The main reason for the postponement was to get rid of barangay officials involved in illegal drugs.”

Meanwhile, in the Senate, Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV said the  people and not President Rodrigo Duterte should choose next barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan leaders. Aquino made this call as he criticized efforts to allow  Duterte to appoint barangay officer-in-charge once the barangay and SK elections are postponed.