Opposition lawmaker, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman suspects the administration party is using the postponement of the 2017 barangay elections to strengthen their ranks.

proposals for the postponement of the elections currently pending in congress allow incumbents to stay in office till they are replaced.

“i think the PDP laban is really recruiting brgy officials to join the party and most probably the come on is that if they are members of the PDP laban they will not be replaced with OICS…the administration is taking contradictory positions the postponement of the brgy elections and the appointment of OICS by the central govt or by the president is contratry to the principle of federalism,” said Lagman.

Lagman however maintains that no appointment can be justified. “the thing is the incumbent elected brgy officials cannot be removed or subsituted by OICs caretakers or whatever they woudl  remain in office till their successors are elected and qualified since they are categorized by the constitution as local elective officials”

      Section 8 of Article X of the 1987 Constitution unequivocally provides:

     “SECTION 8. The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years and no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected.”

Lagman says that Under the foregoing provision, while the Constitution fixed the term of office of other local elective officials like governors, vice governors, provincial board members, municipal and city mayors, municipal and city vice mayors and municipal and city councilors, to “three years and no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms”, the term of office of barangay officials “shall be determined by law”.

While ordinarily the term of office of barangay officials is also fixed by law to three years which shall not exceed more than three consecutive terms, there was a time under R.A. No. 8524 (February 1998) that the term of office of barangay officials was increased from three years to five years, but reverted to three years under R.A. No. 9164 (March 2002).

Republic Act No. 10923 which was approved on 15 October 2016 postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to the fourth Monday of October 2017 provides for hold over reading: “[u]ntil their successors shall have been duly elected and qualified, all incumbent barangay officials shall remain in office, unless sooner removed or suspended for cause.”

Similarly, other statutes on barangay elections like R.A. No. 6653 (May 1988), R.A. No. 9164 (March 2002) and R.A. No. 9340 (September 2005), also invariably provide for hold over.

Hold over provisions recognize that elected barangay officials shall remain in office until the election, not appointment, of their successors.

Barangay officials suspected of complicity in drug-related offenses or any criminal act must be prosecuted and removed for cause pursuant to law, not substituted with OICs.