House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms Chairman Sherwin Tugna cites President Duterte’s war on drugs in seeking to postpone the October 2017 Barangay Elections to May 2018.

This after the House of Representatives held an all-party caucus on Monday afternoon to discuss the 5 pending bills and 1 resolution calling for the postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.

These have been filed and are pending before the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms.

Tugna said of the caucus, “napagusapan yung tungkol sa postponement ng brgy elections and it was decided that instead of what was criculating that it will be a postponement and appointment it was decided by the all member caucus that  it will be a postponement and hldover of the brgy officials this will be till may 2018”

Tugna also said, “di ko masecond guess yung reason ng colleagues ko in the HoR kasi wala pa naman talagang full blown cmte hearing as well as plenary debates but i think i believe they put a premium on the mandate ng mga naihalala way back 2013 na they are currently they are still continuing their term kasi yung mga nakaupo ngayon na officials ito pa yung inihalal nung Oct 2013.”

Tugna said It was decided at the caucus to move the October 2017 barangay and SK elections to May 2018. “The main reason in favor of the postponement raised during the meeting was to be in sync and to support the administration’s war on drugs. President Duterte, in his public statements, called for the postponement of elections so the elections and barangay politics will not interfere with the ongoing fight to eradicate illegal drugs at the barangay level. “

Tugna said about 200 lawmakers attended the caucus though there were a few who were against the postponement. “ang unang unang issue that ahs to be resolved was tuloy ba ang halalan o postponed posptonement prevailed. may mangilan ngilan gusto mateloy halalan more or less 200 umattend may mangilan ngilan matuloy ang halalan after masettle na postponement ang next issue will be a holdover or appointment the body decided it will be a holdover meaning yung current na nagalalan at nagoccupy ng brgy positions they will cotninue with their positions till may 2018”

Tugna added, “Postponing the elections would prevent the election of local personalities linked to drug operations.  More importantly, it would also give ample time for incumbent barangay officials to address and curb the drug-problem of our country.”

Tugna stressed that the decision to allow incumbent officials to stay on instead of empowering the president to appoint oics shows the independence of the Congress.

President Duterte had asked for the power to appoint OICS to weed out brgy officials involved in  illegal drugs.” that only goes to show in our republican system of govt the executive legsialtive and the judiciary that we are co equal and we are idnepndent agency of the govt makikitain yung independence ng HoR ng lower house”

Tugna says while this is not what the president wants, their proposal will still enable the government to weed out the barangay officials involved in illegal drugs. “although this is not in consonance with what he wished for but on a practical level on a ground level pag yung brgy officials wala silang haharaping halalan, they can cotninue  to work with dept agencies tasked tow ork with the brgy eletcions they can cotninue saturating their communities to get rid of the drug trade..kasi they will not be involved with politics….theres a possibility na icuddle nila yung ibang kabarangay nila kasi siyemrpe halalan eh they will put a premium on the votes.”

Tugna adds there are mechanisms for holding barangay officials involved in drugs accountable. “currently naman merong emchanism…the DILG which has authority over brgy officials i believe those who are clealry identified those brgy officials who are clealry dientified alredaya s being involved in the drug trade naniniwala akot heyre alreday making a case build up…file administrative case against them”

Opposition Congressman Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman for his part twitted his colleagues for the decision. In a separate statement, Lagman said, “  When an issue is close to their turf, Representatives have no problem defying President Rodrigo Duterte and asserting their independence.”

Duterte had sought the postponement but insisted on the power to appoint barangay officials who will serve till elections are held to weed out the barangay officials allegedly involved in drugs. Lagman insists, “ Barangay officials are classified by the Constitution as “elective local officials” who are installed to office by electoral mandate, not appointment.It is for this reason that laws on barangay elections invariably include a hold over provision.

The Committee on Suffrage is expected to approve on a bill next week which the plenary can act on. “theres a schedule in the cmte on suffrage and electoral reforms mapagusapan ang psotpnement next week i believe tulad ng nangyari last eyar kahit di pa certified as urgent kaya natin ipasa in number of days we have a scheduled meahring on the 14th of august thats a monday i believe he should be here syemrpe eletcion ng 42 thousand brgy officials ang andito dito”