League backs barangay polls postponement

MANILA -- The national president of the Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas (LnB) on Monday expressed support to the postponement of the October 2017 barangay elections.

In a position paper submitted to the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms, LnB president Edmund Abesamis said the barangay polls deferment will facilitate the cleansing of drug-infested barangays and the removal of barangay officials with links to illegal drugs.

It will not only get rid of 'narco-politicians' at the grassroots level but will expedite the attainment of a drug-clear Philippines, Abesamis said.

Abesamis noted there is valid concern that drug syndicates and personalities will use drug money to infiltrate and influence the elections.

It is easier to deal with persons who are already identified to be involved in illegal drugs than with those who are unidentified and yet could win elections, he said.

The barangay league president said the holding of barangay elections can be synchronized with the plebiscite for Charter Change and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law to reduce government spending.

Instead of spending these billions of public funds for the election and plebiscites, they could be allocated for use in education in fulfillment of the law on free tuition in state universities and colleges, and in the much-needed rehabilitation of Marawi City, he added.

The period of postponement can also be used to discuss, consider, and pass pending bills in Congress pushing for barangay electoral, structural, and fiscal reforms, he noted.

The LnB also supported the holdover of incumbent barangay officials which, Abesamis said, has constitutional, legal and jurisprudential bases.

Abesamis further explained that the incumbent barangay officials, especially those who are innocent and performing, were elected and possess the mandate of the people. He said they are more effective leaders than appointees.

Voting 19-2, the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, chaired by CIBAC Partylist Rep. Sherwin Tugna, approved the proposal to postpone the October 2017 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to the second Monday of May 2018.

The said proposal also seeks to retain the incumbent barangay officials in a holdover capacity.

The two lawmakers who voted against deferment of polls were ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio and Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas.

In an ambush interview after the hearing, Tugna said he expects the approval of the measure before the end of August.

Source: Philippine News Agency