PNoy to Comelec: Proceed with barangay polls

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By Mikha Flores, VERA Files

President Benigno Aquino III said on Tuesday the country should proceed with the scheduled barangay election this October instead of postponing it, as suggested by the Commission on Elections.

“I’m nervous about the postponement. There might be a lot of postponements that will happen like what we experienced before and the mandate of the people should be secured periodically,” Aquino said in Pilipino.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr said on Monday he would prefer that barangay elections be held next year or early 2015 to give the poll body time to deal with more urgent issues, including the expected electoral protests by losing candidates in the recently concluded polls.

Another priority is to meet with the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee for the May 13, 2013 post-elections assessment, he said.

“It’s really up to legislature and the president, because all acts will be decided by the President,” Brillantes said when asked to comment on the president’s position.

There are pending bills in Congress seeking to delay the elections scheduled later this year.

“If the Congress passes a postponement law, the president can still veto the postponement,” Brillantes said.

Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said in a radio program Comelec’s proposal to postpone the elections is against the Constitution. While Congress has power to set the date for the barangay elections, it has no power to extend the term of office of barangay officials.

"Hindi dapat magkaroon ng postponement sapagkat anumang batas na gagawin ng Kongreso ay magiging labag sa ating Saligang Batas (There should be no postponement because any law that Congress will pass will be against the Constitution)," said Macalintal.

The poll chief, for his part, said he did not want to extend the terms of barangay officials. “Puwede naman matapos ang term nila at walang hold over, at mag-appoint si Presidente, mas gusto ko iyon (They can complete their terms without holdovers and let the President appoint [officers-in-charge]. I prefer that),” Brillantes said.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true”.)

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