But incumbent barangay officials push to hold off May 14 elections
By MARK FRANCISCO and GERRY LEE GORIT
Comelec Commissioners Al Parreño (left) and Luie Tito Guia (right) confer during the agency's public hearing conducted on Tuesday in Cagayan de Oro City on possible postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections. photo by gerry lee gorit
THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday explained that the commission could postpone the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections for only up to a month. But beyond that, it needs an act by Congress.
Speaking during the public hearing held by the commission regarding the impending postponement of the May 14 elections in Cagayan de Oro City, Commissioner Luie Tito Guia said that they conducted the Mindanao-wide consultation series because the island is in a state of martial law.
“We are looking on the viewpoints of the citizens on whether we can conduct the elections securely and on whether the results of the elections will be credible,” Guia said.
He stressed that the only reason that Comelec would call off the election is when there is imminent and actual violence in the island during the whole duration of the election period starting in April until the proclamation of winners.
Around a thousand attended yesterday’s public hearing held at the Grand Caprice Restaurant and Convention Center, most of them incumbent barangay officials who called on the Commission to hold off the elections.
At least 50 position papers from various Liga ng mga Barangay federations from as far as Surigao del Norte to Lanao del Sur were received by the Comelec, with the barangay chairs and councilmen expressing their desire to remain in power for the time being.
As Liga ng mga Barangay Cagayan de Oro secretary Jerico Goldmar Ebabacol would put it, “the barangay officials are still at the height of both the anti-illegal drugs campaign and federalism shift awareness.”
“To replace them will another batch of barangay officials will mean a delay in these efforts since the new barangay officials will need to be acquainted with their new work,” Ebabacol added.
But Comelec refused to be swayed.
“Under the law, we need to hold the barangay elections this May 14. We stick to our point that the only basis that we postpone the elections is if there is evidence of violence on Election Day – if our paraphernalia can’t get through, if voters are intimidated, etc.,” Guia said.
It’s a different story once Congress will pass a law postponing the elections for a longer period though, Guia said.
“But unless Congress will postpone the polls, we will continue preparing for Elections Day,” he stressed.
The next Mindanao-wide hearing on the matter will be held in January 29.
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