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Village, SK polls: A history of postponements

Monday’s political exercise was the sixth for barangay (village) elections and fourth for the Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) polls. Prior to the 2002 polls, barangay and SK elections were held separately. Barangay elections took place in the years 1982 (under the Marcos administration), 1989 (under the Aquino administration) and 1994 and 1997 (under the Ramos administration). The SK polls were held twice before 2002 — in 1992 and 1996 under the Ramos administration. Republic Act 9164 enacted on March 19, 2002 during the 12th Congress under Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr and Senate President Franklin Drilon, provided for the synchronization of barangay and SK elections. Section 8 of the law allocated one billion one hundred million pesos (P1,100,000,000.00) from the appropriation of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) authorized under Republic Act No. 9162, otherwise known as the 2002 General Appropriations Act. The same section states that “the savings of the Comelec not exceeding three hundred million pesos (P300,000,000.00) shall be used to augment said appropriations as authorized under Comelec Special Provision No. 2 of the R.A. 9162." “The funds mentioned above may be augmented by an amount not exceeding ten percent (10%) of the Sangguniang Kabataan funds reserved pursuant to Section 532 (c) of Republic Act No. 7160 (or the Local Government Code of 1991)," the said section further stated. Postponement Barangay elections were postponed four times since 1982. From May 1988 it was postponed to November 1988. Then from November 1988, it was again moved to March 28, 1989. For the third time, it was rescheduled from May 2000 to July 15, 2002, and finally from 2005 to 2007. These postponements have resulted in barangay officials serving for more than a decade. Barangay officials who were elected in 2002 have been in office for five years. Those who have held the same posts for three terms already have been in office for 13 years by the time they relinquish their posts this year (1994-1997; 1997-2002; 2002-2007). Meanwhile, SK officials who were elected in 2002 have also been in office for five years by now. Thanks to the postponement of SK elections in 2005. All of them are now already in their early 20s. Section 2 of R.A. 9164 states that “the term of office of all barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials…shall be three years." “No barangay elective official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms in the same position: Provided, however, That the term of office shall be reckoned from the 1994 barangay elections," the same section noted. Before R.A. 9164, terms of office for barangay officials were up to six years, as mandated under Batasang Pambansa Blg. 222. When R.A. 6653 postponed the May 1988 barangay elections to November of that year, the same law also shortened the barangay officials' terms to five years. After another postponement, the elections eventually pushed through in 1989 and 1994. In 1991, the Local Government Code reduced the term of barangay officials to three years, counted from the 1994 elections. Hence, barangay elections were held in 1997. The postponement of barangay elections in 2000 extended the barangay officials' terms by two more years. This was also the case when the 2005 barangay elections were pushed back to 2007. Aside from the laws that either postponed or changed the terms of office of village officials, several measures were also filed to defer the 2007 barangay and SK elections. 13 measures The 14th House of Representatives filed 13 measures (12 bills and 1 resolution) seeking to push back the 2007 barangay and SK polls. One of these measures, House Bill 2417, filed last September 18, was approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives, or just six weeks before the October 29 polls. The bill proposed to move the 2007 barangay and SK elections to 2009. HB 2417 did not prosper into a law because it did not have a counterpart measure in the Senate. The Senate rejected the House bill. It said there was no reason to defer the polls, adding that the call for postponement was already too late. The measure said the polls should be postponed because of the following: the need for poll automation; depleted resources following the May 14, 2007 elections; ballot boxes still being used for ongoing electoral protests; impracticality of having two elections in a span of five months; focus needs to be on lowering poverty incidence, not on another election; spate of killings of barangay captains in recent months and time to heal from political controversies after the May 14 polls. - GMA News Research