Press Release
August 30, 2016

To give time for implementation of SK Reform Law

Senator Sonny Angara on Tuesday sponsored the bill seeking a one-year postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections originally scheduled on October 31.

Angara, chairman of the Senate committee on local government, said the postponement will allow more time for the full implementation of the recently enacted SK Reform Act or Republic Act 10742.

"We clearly hear the voices of those who are against the proposal. Naiintindihan po namin ang hinaing ng kabataan na tatlong taon nang hindi nakakaboto ng SK. Pero klaro rin po sa amin na sa iilang mahahalagang aspeto, hindi pa po handa ang gobyerno para maimplimenta ang RA 10742," said Angara in his sponsorship speech of Senate Bill 1112.

The SK reform was signed into law in January, and its implementing rules and regulations were approved only in July.

One of the salient provisions of the law is the mandatory training of SK officials before they formally assume office.

However, the senator pointed out that there are no funds available yet for the mandatory training, which is worth P50 million, and at the same time, no barangay is prepared to conduct such training primarily because no training module has been created, tested or fine-tuned.

He added that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) had set the special registration for SK polls for a little over two weeks only, from July 15 to 30, or half of the minimum period mandated by RA 10742.

"Sa madaling salita po, pagdating sa pag-implementa ng SK Reform Act, may gatas pa sa labi ang gobyerno. Siguraduhin sana muna natin na maiimplimenta nang tama ang SK Reform Act," Angara said.

Meanwhile, the Comelec has stressed that the polls should be moved to a later date to avoid "election fatigue" in the country following the May 2016 national elections.

Angara said the postponement will give the Comelec more time to assure higher voter turnout for the barangay and SK elections while giving would-be voters the head space to fully consider who should lead their barangays.

Government projects and processes, and appointments of new government officials would also be temporarily banned and restricted during election period.

Pushing through with the barangay polls this year could also break the momentum of President Duterte's war against drugs, criminality and corruption.

Assigning election-related duties to the Philippine National Police (PNP), which deploys 90 percent of their personnel during elections, would effectively limit the PNP's capacity to solve the drug problem.

"At the same time, barangay officials play an important role in the country's anti-criminality campaign. Having them engage in elections--a politically partisan exercise--would just be another way we distract or delay their resolve to face down the drug scourge," the senator said.

While the printing of ballots has been suspended, the Comelec said it will wait for a law or joint resolution from Congress to formally postpone the elections.

"Let me emphasize that with this measure, we are not forsaking every person's right to suffrage. We merely defer its exercise in the hopes of strengthening it and making it more meaningful," Angara concluded.

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