Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Move to defer bgy. polls shot down

By: Bernadette E. Tamayo - Journal
SENATE Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. rejected a proposal from the House of Representatives to postpone the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections from the fourth Monday of October this year to the second Monday of October in 2008.

He said the people should not be deprived of their right to pass judgment on barangay and SK officials and to elect their replacements for the good of the community.

“The elections should be held as scheduled. It’s not good to allow bad barangay and SK officials to have a free ride for roughly another term while the good ones deserve a renewal of their mandate,” Pimentel said.

The deferment of the twin elections is contained in House Bill 6116, filed by Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas, who said the government cannot afford to spend a huge amount of money less than six months after the mid-term congressional and local elections last May 14.

Gullas said the barangay and SK elections will cost anywhere from P2.8 billion to P3.3 billion. Only P2 billion is earmarked under the 2007 national budget.

Pimentel however said money should not be made as an excuse to postpone the elections.

“In the first place, the Arroyo government keeps on saying that the inflow of government revenues has substantially improved due to the implementation of
tax reforms,” he said.

He said the Commission on Elections should make do with the P2 billion funding and adopt measures to minimize the cost of the political exercise. Local government units may also be requested to help defray the cost of the elections out of their Internal Revenue Allotment.

He said the postponement of the SK elections has brought about an awkward and anomalous situation where incumbent youth council officials are way above the 15 to 17 age bracket.

“It is unfair for the people to let village officials stay in office without the benefit of election even if they are not discharging their duties properly, or worse, taking advantage of their office for personal gains,” Pimentel said. “Any deferment of the elections and consequent extension of term will be seen as a reward for the barangay and SK officials for favors that they might have done for the administration, especially in past political exercises.”

No comments: