Press Release
August 4, 2007


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today assailed the renewed administration move to postpone the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in defiance of the prevailing sentiment of the people to allow them to exercise their right to choose and change village officials.

Pimentel said the deferment move is illogical, unjustified and indefensible because the preparations by the Commission on Elections for the twin polls are already in an advanced stage while the Department of Budget and Management has already assured that more than P2 billion is available for these political exercises.

Despite the fact that officials in more than 43,000 barangays and SK all over the country are already overstaying as a result of two previous postponements of the elections, the administration congressmen, led by Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr. are backing House Bill 6116, filed by Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas, which seeks to further reset the two elections from the 4th Monday of October, 2007 to the 2nd Monday of October, 2008.

This means another extension of the term of barangay and SK officials by one year.

Pimentel said he could see no other reason for delaying the elections except to enable Malacañang to curry favor with the barangay and SK officials and coopt them into shoring up support for the unpopular administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

"It's a political ploy to inveigle barangay and SK leaders good and bad to support the administration. The delay is disastrous to good governance since elections are a general way of demanding public official accountability," he said.

Pimentel also criticized Comelec Chairman for flip-flopping on his stand on the issue by turning his back on his original position opposing any postponement of the twin elections.

He said it is unseemly for Abalos to now toe the administration line on the issue considering that a huge amount of time, energy and money has already been spent by Comelec for the poll preparation. The Comelec has even extended the registration of barangay residents and youth voters who have come in droves to its field offices an unmistakable sign of their enthusiasm for the holding of the polls.

Pimentel said he found the reasons being cited by administration congressmen for the poll postponement flimsy and even ridiculous.

The administration congressmen argued that it is not good to hold the barangay and SK elections less than six months after the May 14 national and local elections as the nation should have a respite from political contests and the tension that they bring.

However, Pimentel said it would be most unfair and undemocratic to allow non-performing and abusive barangay and SK leaders to stay longer in their posts, thereby depriving the residents of the right to vote from out of office and put an end to the misgovernance in their communities.

"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.

On the proponents' argument that the government could ill afford to spend a huge amount of funds for new elections, less months after the mid-term polls, Pimentel said this is laughable because the Arroyo government keeps on trumpeting that state revenues have markedly improved due to fiscal reforms.

Pimentel said it is obvious that the deferment of the barangay and SK polls are part of the subtle measures resorted to by the administration to window-dress the government's fiscal situation by making it appear that the programmed budget deficit this year will be attained.

He said that the continued stay of incumbent SK officials could by no means be justified because all of them have already exceeded the age bracket (15 to 17 years old) for youth and therefore are presumed to be legally unqualified to occupy posts.

Pimentel said this anomalous situation and mockery of law, whereby those who have reached adulthood, are still running the youth councils should not be allowed to continue in office by the repeated deferment of the elections.

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