Group favors postponement of Barangay, SK polls in Mindanao

MANILA-- Election watchdogs have contradicting opinions regarding the plan to postpone the Oct. 23 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections in the whole of Mindanao, which is under Martial Law due to the ongoing fight between government troops and Maute group in Marawi City.

Rene Sarmiento, chairperson of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) believed that the situation in the region, particularly in the city in Lanao del Sur is enough reason to postpone the scheduled polls.

"I agree. The situation in Marawi plus its spill-over effect on the whole of Mindanao ( doctrine of spill-over was mentioned in Lagman vs. Medialdea) justify postponement of barangay elections in Marawi and Mindanao," he said.

"Moreover, existence of martial law ( though now coupled with many constitutional safeguards) and suspension of the privilege of habeas corpus are not motivational and encouraging conditions for the holding of elections. Postpone na muna,"added the former Commissioner of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

On the other hand, Eric Alvia, National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) Secretary General, said they were for the postponement on the village and youth polls but only in areas affected by the crisis.

"Only in conflict areas," he said, adding "Physically impossible to prepare & conduct an election and it would expose to harm voters, watchers & election workers."

The Namfrel official noted that declaring a place under military rule should not prevent people to exercise their right to vote.

"Martial law should not be a basis to suspend or deny the right to suffrage of any person," Alvia added.

The Comelec is set to hold a public hearing to know the opinion of the people if they want the Barangay and SK elections postponed or not.

The public consultation will be held at 2:00 p.m., on August 15 at the Marco Polo Hotel in Davao City.

Source: Philippine News Agency