MANILA, Aug. 8 — Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Andres Bautista may be facing controversy, however, a senator said Tuesday that this should not distract the commission from preparing for the barangay (village) elections regardless of when it will be held.
“Their attitude, I think, is that of all systems go. Until Congress pulls the plug yet again on the twice-postponed village polls, they should follow their timetable,” Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said in a statement.
Barangay elections are scheduled this October, however, President Rodrigo Duterte requested the Congress to postpone the upcoming polls and replace all barangay officials with appointees as many of them are said to be involved in the illegal drug trade.
Recto said that his position is to hold the elections in October as scheduled as postponing it to May next year would be a “waste” of preparatory activities.
“You won’t save if you cancel. We can only save money if we are permanently canceling the polls. But we are only postponing it. So instead of spending at least PHP7 billion this year, we will only delay spending it by seven months, so in the end, we will still have to spend that PHP7 billion,” Recto said.
He, however, acknowledged that in critical areas under martial law, a deferment is justified, but in other areas, it’s not.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, an ally of President Duterte, earlier said that he was open to the proposal but said that the proposal should first have a legal basis.
“That needs a law. There should be a legal basis. I would have to discuss that with my fellow senators…We need to know why that was the sentiment of the President,” Pimentel said in an earlier interview.
Senator Francis Escudero also said that he had no “strong objections” to the proposed postponement the scheduled polls.
“I have no strong objections but I want to see the final details of the proposal,” Escudero said in an earlier press conference.
Senator and acting President of the Liberal Party Francis Pangilinan earlier said that the party does not have an official stand on being in favor or against the postponement barangay polls.
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.