Press Release
June 18, 2007


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the people should not be deprived of their right to pass judgment on officials of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials and their right to elect their replacements for the good of the community.

Pimentel expressed strong objection to a proposal from the House of Representatives to postpone the barangay and SK polls from the fourth Monday of October, 2007 to the second Monday of October, 2008.

"The elections should be held as scheduled. It's not good to allow bad barangay and SK officials to have a free ride for roughly another term while the good ones deserve a renewal of their mandate," he said.

The deferment of the twin elections is contained in House Bill 6116, filed by Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas, who said the government could ill afford to spend a huge amount of money less than six months after the mid-term congressional and local elections last May 14.

Gullas said the holding of the barangay and SK elections will cost the government anywhere from P2.8 billion to P3.3 billion. Only P2 billion is earmarked under the 2007 national budget.

Pimentel said it is a bad argument to postpone an election by raising the issue of funding. In the first place, he said the Arroyo government keeps on saying that the inflow of government revenues has substantially improved due to the implementation of tax reforms.

He said the Commission on Elections should make do with the P2 billion funding for the barangay and SK elections and adopt measures to minimize the cost of the political exercise. He said local government units may also be requested to help defray the cost the elections out of their Internal Revenue Allotment.

Moreover, Pimentel pointed out that the incumbent barangay and SK officials have overstayed in their posts, as their three-year term of office was extended by two years when the election for these officials was postponed from October 3, 2005 to October 29, 2007 by virtue of a law passed by Congress.

He said the postponement of the SK election has brought about an awkward and anomalous situation where incumbent youth council officials are way above the 15-17 years age bracket for youth.

Pimentel said it is unfair for the people to let village officials stay in office without the benefit of election even if they are not discharging their duties properly, or worse, taking advantage of their office for personal gains.

He added that any deferment of the elections and consequent extension of term will be seen as a reward for the barangay and SK officials for favors that they might have done for the administration, especially in past political exercises.

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