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B’gay, KB voters finally go to polls this May



The House of Representatives sought to postpone a third time the Barangay and Kabataang Barangay (KB) elections with a bill which it passed last week by vote of 164 to 27.

Fortunately for the country, especially those who value elections as the core of a democratic system of government, there is no corresponding bill in the Senate. This latest move to postpone the elections yet again is therefore “dead,” according to Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.

The Barangay and SK elections on October 31, 2016, were the first to be cancelled, on the ground that the presidential elections had just been held that May after one whole year of campaigning and there seemed to be “election fatigue”among the nation’s voters. The polls were thus postponed one year to October 23, 2017. But they were again cancelled – to save funds – and reset to May 14, 2018.

This is the election that the House was again trying to cancel and postpone to October 8, 2018, saying it should be held together with the plebiscite for the expected new constitution so as to save money. But there is no plebiscite scheduled this October, only five months from now. There is even no new constitution yet. What legitimate reason can here be for a new postponement?

There has not been any support for the new postponement outside of the House. The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) expressed its “vigorous opposition” to any postponement, saying that periodic and regular elections are important so the elected officials remain answerable and accountable.

President Duterte has said that many of the sitting barangay leaders were elected with the help of drug money. And, he added, they may win reelection because of the same support. Repeated cancellations of elections will not solve this problem; charging and suspending erring officials will. And the nation’s voters must be mobilized by the administration to vote out all those with links to drugs in the country.

The Commission on Elections is now moving ahead with all due preparations for the elections. The sitting officials were supposed to serve their three-year terms only until October, 2016. The barangay and kabataan voters have long been denied their right to elect their leaders. They are now looking forward to finally exercising this right this coming May.

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