MANILA, Philippines - Incumbent barangay officials stand to enjoy an extended term of office under Republic Act 10923 or the law that resets this year’s barangay elections to Oct. 23, 2017.
Based on the law approved by President Duterte in Oct. 15, these incumbent officials would stay in office on hold-over capacity until their successors are duly elected and qualified.
The law stated that barangay officials may be removed or suspended for cause.
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista welcomed the enactment of the law, saying he had been confident that Duterte would sign the measure.
Bautista said since the law had been signed, the Comelec could now resume voter registration in November, wherein they expect an additional two million voters for the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and two million more for the barangay to sign up.
Bautista assured the public that some P6 billion intended for the barangay and SK polls are intact and will be used in 2017.
The 411,000 official ballots that had been printed may be used by amending the dates indicated on it.
But for election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, the extension of term of office provided by the postponement of the synchronized polls is unconstitutional.
Macalintal said it would be like allowing the officials to hold office although they no longer have the mandate of the people.
“Holdover constitutes appointment. In a word, these holdover officials are ‘appointed’ by the legislators in violation of the constitutional provision that barangay officials should be elected by their constituents,” he added.
Macalintal cited the 2011 ruling of the Supreme Court on the Kida vs Senate case wherein the extension of term of office through holdover was declared unconstitutional.
“The holdover provision deprives the voters of the right to choose their leaders. It violates the electorate’s right to due process because Congress, whether we like it or not, imposes upon us these ‘appointed’ barangay officials without notice or hearing, when they are supposed to be elected and not appointed,” he said.
The law also states that pending the election of the new SK officials, its funds should not be used except for youth development and empowerment programs provided under the SK Reform Act of 2015.
PPCRV favors postponement
Outgoing Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) chief Henrietta de Villa is in favor of postponing the barangay elections to next year.
De Villa, who will turn over the PPCRV leadership to former Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento on Nov. 1, said past experiences showed there should be adequate spacing between elections.
“From my experience at PPCRV it is too close to hold the barangay elections now, just five months after the presidential elections. You have not even finished compiling the data and the reports from the recent presidential elections, you are already preparing for the barangay elections. Oftentimes, there is not enough time to prepare well for the coming elections,” she said. – With Evelyn Macairan