House panel archives bills on postponement of barangay, SK polls

August 26, 2010 11:23 am 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Aug. 25 — Members of the committee on suffrage and electoral reforms of the House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to archive all pending House bills and resolutions calling for the postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.

During the committee hearing Wednesday, at least 22 lawmakers voted in favor of the motion of Valenzuela City Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo "to lay on the table all pending bills and resolutions calling for the postponement of barangay and SK elections."

In effect, House committee chair and Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga said, this would mean suspension of deliberations on the measures indefinitely and that election of barangay and SK officials will push through as scheduled on October 25, this year.

There are 21 House bills and two resolutions which call for the postponement of barangay elections now pending at the chamber.

Barzaga said this was the consensus reached during the meeting on Tuesday with President Benigno S. Aquino III and the Senate.

"It is not good impression on the people if the executive and legislative branches of government are divisive on this," he said.

House Deputy Majority Leader and Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin also said there was no time left to pass a law postponing the elections.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares earlier said the incumbent barangay officials were elected with a three-year term and it could not be longer.

"If we postpone the elections this year, we are extending their term, which is not representative of the will of the people but of Congress," he said.

Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello said the election is "crucial for sustaining the momentum of political reform" that was started with the May presidential polls.

"I’m worried that if we postpone (elections), we risk going into an economic downturn. We don’t want to endanger our economic recovery," he said.

Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles said the primary reason not to postpone the barangay and SK elections this year is that the electorate voted barangay officials for a specified period under the law.

"By extending the term of office of these officials, we would be unduly depriving the electorate of the right to choose new set of barangay officials upon the expiration of such term. This will go against the principle of checks and balance, wherein the electorate can punish non-performing barangay officials by not voting for them at the end of the official term of office," said Nograles in a text message. (PNA) scs/LGI

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