March 22, 2018, 8:00 am
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Senate resets barangay, SK polls

The Senate yesterday approved on third and final reading, 17-2, a measure postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to May 2018.

A bicameral meeting has yet to be set. The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading on September 11 a bill postponing the elections to the second Monday of May 2018. The bill allows barangay and SK officials to sit in a holdover capacity until the next elections.

The elections had been set for next month.

Members of the Senate minority bloc, except for Sen. Risa Hontiveros, voted for the approval of the measure being pushed by Malacañang.

Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon said the minority did not block the passage of the measure because the majority accepted the amendment that removed the grant of power to President Duterte to appoint officers-in-charge.

“The majority in this chamber accepted our amendments to Section 3 in this bill,” Drilon, a member of the Liberal Party, said.

Section 3 gives President Duterte the authority to appoint OICs if the incumbent barangay officials are found in Duterte’s list of officials involved in the trade of illegal drugs.

LP senators earlier said they will oppose the cancellation of the barangay and SK elections, as well as the appointment by Duterte of barangay officials, saying it is one step away to a nationwide martial law.

President Duterte said he does not want the power to choose or appoint OICs.

“I am not interested in appointing anybody,” he said at the Gawad Executive Service awarding ceremony in Malacañang.

Duterte, in a TV interview Tuesday night, said he has informed Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez that he does not want to appoint OICs. He said he considered the opposition’s sentiments in refusing to appoint OICs.

“Kasi sabi ng mga opposition, ‘Is it not giving the power, too much power to the President? Kanyang mga tao na i-appoint niya? (The opposition said, ‘Is it not giving the power, too much power to the President? He will appoint only his people?’” he said.

Duterte reiterated he wants the October 23 barangay and SK elections this year to be postponed to prevent narco-politics from spreading. He said at least 40 percent of barangay captains are involved in illegal drug operations and drug money would again be used during the campaign.

“They will really win, because they have money. You know barangays, you either scare the people or buy them off,” he said adding that if the lawmakers want the elections to proceed, it’s not a problem with him.

“But if those into drugs are re-elected, that’s not my problem,” he added. – With Jocelyn Montemayor
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