Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Barangay,SK polls moved to 2007

Senate, House bicameral panel agree on new date


A Senate-House of Representatives bicameral committee yesterday agreed to move the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to 2007.

The panel’s report will now be sent to both chambers of Congress for ratification before it is submitted to President Arroyo for approval.

"Both Houses have approved the bicameral conference committee report on the granting of (term) extension on the barangay and SK officials," Sen. Richard Gordon, head of the Senate panel, said minutes after the bicameral committee reached a consensus.

The barangay and SK elections are supposed to be held in October, but the Commission on Elections (Comelec) complained that no funds have been appropriated for the exercise.

This prompted administration lawmakers to reschedule the elections to the last Monday of October in 2007, thus extending the terms of incumbent officials to two more years.

In a press briefing, Gordon said he hopes the Comelec will no longer complain about lack of funds for the 2007 elections.

Likewise, the 14 members of the panel urged the executive department to "respect the decision of the legislature that when an election is properly announced, funds must be appropriated for it."

Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr., meanwhile, expressed elation that the barangay and SK elections are now "all systems go."

He extolled the decision of the panel to push for the elections two years from now.

"This shows that we can really pass a legislation very quickly when we act with sincerity and goodwill towards each other," he said.

The congressman was referring to the decision of the bicam to adopt a middle ground as proposed by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada.

According to Locsin, the Senate version of the law pegs the elections next year while the House wanted to conduct the polls in 2008.

The House and Senate eventually settled to hold the barangay polls in 2007 and initially allotted P2.8 billion. But the bicam ruled that the budget be open-ended to allow the Comelec to come out with a more realistic figure.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., a supporter of the non-postponement of the elections, said it is better than nothing. He maintained though that the government has the money to fund the elections, contrary to the Comelec’s position

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