MANILA–Acting Liberal Party (LP) president Sen. Francis Pangilinan on Wednesday said that the party does not have an official stand on the postponement of barangay and Sangguinang Kabataan (village and youth) elections this October.
He, however, said that based on consultations in Senate and a number of the LP members in the House of Representatives (HoR), there is an expression of reservation regarding the proposal.
The senator made this remark reacting to plans of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to postpone the scheduled elections and replace all barangay officials with appointees as many of them are allegedly involved in illegal drugs trade.
“Most LP lawmakers expressed concern that because it has already been postponed last year,” Pangilinan said in a Kapihan sa Manila Bay press conference.
The senator, who is against another postponement, said that last year, several lawmakers supported the postponement but mainly because amendments had to be made to the SK law.
He further said that village elections should not be held too close to the May elections.
“…We said that one year postponement is doable and realistic and gives the Comelec (Commission on Elections) enough time to prepare for the scheduled mid-term elections,” Pangilinan said.
“We agreed to a postponement but a second postponement is no longer reasonable in terms of timing, in terms of preparation, it’s too close to the mid-term elections and the issue of postponing for a second time also affects the right to suffrage of our youth,” he added.
He reiterated by appointing village officials, the government weakens constitutional democracy and stressed that people should be given the chance to be trusted to elect their leaders.
“Let’s give our citizens an opportunity to be trusted. At least then, even if you say their terms were extended, they were selected by people. Somehow, they have a mandate. But postponing elections to appoint –that’s no longer democratic,” Pangilinan said.
”If a voter approaches them he won’t be able to say, ‘Captain, we voted for you.’ The Captain might say, ‘You didn’t vote for me. I don’t owe you debt of gratitude.’