Press Release
April 20, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the Arroyo administrations readiness to fund a planned plebiscite on Charter amendments betrays its policy of selective and inequitable policy in allocating taxpayers money for political exercises.

Pimentel said while President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has no problem bankrolling a plebiscite on the proposed shift to a unicameral parliamentary system of government, she has refused to set aside funds for the election of officials in about 42,000 barangays, resulting in the postponement of the exercises twice.

He said the assurance of Budget and Management Secretary Rolando Andaya, Jr. that he can produce the P2.6 billion being asked by the Commission on Elections for the plebiscite indicates that Malacañang was lying when it claimed that there was no money for the barangay polls.

Pimentel said he is dumbfounded about Andayas statement because the planned plebiscite is still up in the air due to unresolved questions over the legality of amending the Constitution by peoples initiative. Also, he said, nowhere in the 2006 General Appropriations Act is there a provision allocating funds for a plebiscite.

In contrast, he said there was a law providing for the holding of regular elections for barangay chairmen and councilmen of barangays and Sangguniang Kabataan whose three-year term expired in 2005. He said it was unwise to cancel and postpone the elections because it resulted in automatic but unwarranted extension of the term of barangay and SK executives and deprived the citizenry of the right to pass judgment on such officials at the end of their term and to replace those who were non-performing, abusive of their powers and therefore undeserving of their positions.

Again, this proves our long-held observation that President Arroyo makes decisions on many important matters with an ulterior motive in mind her own political survival, Pimentel said.

Saying that the jigsaw puzzle about the deferment of the barangay elections has fallen into place, Pimentel said the resulting extension of the term of village officials was apparently intended to make them beholden to the President and to shore up political support for her in preparation for future elections and the plebiscite on Charter amendments.

He bewailed that the administration didnt care whether the poll postponement gave rise to an abnormal situation in which incumbent SK officials have stayed in office even if they are already way above the 18 year old age limit for youth.

Pimentel accused the administration of sacrificing respect for law and sense of propriety by tapping the P800 million Presidents Contingent Fund for the planned plebiscite despite the fact that such fund is intended for unforeseen and unscheduled activities as defined by law.

Earlier, he maintained that there was money available for the barangay and SK elections. He said the estimated P2.8 billion cost of the twin elections can be sourced from the share of the barangays from the Internal Revenue Allotment amounting to P30 billion last year. Of this amount, P3.03 billion was the share of SK.

Originally, the barangay and SK elections were postponed from last Monday of October, 2005.

Then, the administration wanted to defer it further to May, 2008. Last year, Congress passed a law postponing it to last Monday of October 2007.

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