The Senate electoral reforms and finance committees are recommending the postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections from October this year to October next year.
Committee Report No. 163 authored by Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Senator Richard Gordon would also allow President Rodrigo Duterte to appoint officers-in-charge (OICs) in the barangays, contrary to the bill passed by the House of Representatives on third reading.
“Until their successors shall have been duly elected and qualified, or until the President, through the Executive Secretary, shall appoint officers-in-charge for the barangay, all incumbent barangay officials shall remain in office, unless sooner removed or suspended for cause,” the committee report states.
The report also states that the inclusion of the name of an incumbent barangay official in the “validated” drug list in President Duterte's possession is enough ground to be replaced with an OIC.
Duterte has pushed for the postponement of the barangay elections and replace incumbent officials with appointive officers-in-charge, as he alleged that 40 percent of the incumbent barangay captains nationwide are involved in illegal drugs.
The committee finds it necessary to postpone the elections “given the events occuring, such as: the armed conflict in Marawi City, the proclamation and extension of Martial Law in Mindanao, and the prevalence of illegal drugs.”
“It is hereby declared the policy of the State to postpone the October 2017 barangay and sangguniang kabataan elections to October 2018 to provide ample time for the government to maintain peace and order and protect the general welfare of the people,” it states.
Subsequent synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections shall be held on the second Monday of May 2020 and every three years thereafter.
With a vote of 213 in the affirmative, 10 in the negative and zero abstentions, the chamber approved House Bill 6308, which consolidated five other bills and one resolution of the same purpose.
Under the measure, incumbent barangay officials will be on hold-over positions until they are replaced by their successors after the elections.
Once the Senate approves the committee report in full, both houses of Congress will form a bicameral conference committee to reconcile disagreeing provisions.
Aside from Gordon, vice-chairman of the Senate electoral reforms committee, and Sotto, those who signed the committee report are Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the finance committee, and Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Nancy Binay, Sonny Angara, and Ralph Recto.
Those who signed the report but have expressed intention to interpellate or amend some provisions are Senators Grace Poe, Cynthia Villar, Panfilo Lacson, Francis "Chiz" Escudero, Joel Villanueva, and JV Ejercito.
Not a single member of the Senate minority bloc signed the committee report. —KBK/KVD, GMA News