Press Release
August 30, 2016


Magandang araw po sa inyong lahat.

It is my honor to sponsor an Act to reset the barangay and sangguniang kabataan elections to October 2017.

It is with some hesitation that I make this proposal. Baranggay and SK elections are important: Barangays provide first level services to Filipinos and sangguniang kabataan elections are the primary means by which our youth can participate and make their voices be heard.

Mr. President, hindi po mapapasubalian ang kahalagahan ng mga SK leaders at mga Barangay officials: Sila po ang unang takbuhan ng ating mga kababayan, sila po ang unang tumutugon sa mga problema at isyung nakakaapekto sa ating mga pamayanan, sila po ang nag-u-ugnay sa mga baranggay sa mas mataas na antas ng ating pamahalaan.

SK elections have been rescheduled before and our youth leaders have complained that their voices are not being heard. I sympathize with our youth and I respect their views. I support their role in local governance. It is because of this respect for youth representation that I beg for their understanding.

As important as these elections are, I believe postponing elections is necessary for the following reasons:

First, we have just finished divisive national elections and we need time for cooler heads to prevail. Barangay and SK elections are non-partisan and we do not want them contaminated with the aftermath of the last national elections.

Second, holding the Barangay and SK elections this year will cause delays and slow down crucial economic projects of the national government. Elections will trigger temporary bans and restrictions in several government processes throughout the entire election period. Since we already had a 45-day ban this year on several government processes due to the national and local elections, adding a 10-day ban would mean that roughly 15% of this year were foregone opportunities on possible government services and development efforts.

We have just conducted national elections and it may be more prudent to allow the new administration sufficient time to focus on its commitments. Third, we need a higher voter turnout for barangay elections. A postponement will give an opportunity for the Commission on Elections to improve voter turnout in the SK and barangay elections and foster more meaningful participation.

According to the COMELEC, there were 2,039,531 new registrants for the SK elections and 1,180,101 voters for the barangay elections.

SK and Barangay polls postponement is a chance for Senior High School and college students to be able to register for barangay and SK polls. A number of students were not able to register since classes were already ongoing during the 15-day registration period last month.In fact, the 15 day period can also be questioned because the Implementing Rules and Regulations SK Reform Law states that there should be a special registration and it should not be less than 1 month including Saturdays and Sundays.

Fourth, the upcoming polls will be manual, not automatic, and will be costly.

The COMELEC recommends that we synchronize the holding of the Baranggay and SK polls with the proposed Constitutional Convention as "this will save the government as much as 5 to 6-billion pesos." It is still unclear when a constitutional convention will be held and it may be too long a time to wait for our barangay and SK officials. A one-year delay, under the circumstances, is not unreasonable.

Fifth, if elections push through this year, there could be power outages in different parts of the country because of a directive for all power plants to be always available during the election period. The delay in the maintenance shutdown of several power plants, due to the May 2016 elections, is being cited as the major reason of Luzon's recent power problems during the last Committee on Energy hearing.

Lastly, during the committee hearing, there were concerns on the reported incidence of corrupt and inefficient barangay officials. The time that we could use in the elections may be used to improve mechanisms to investigate and eventually hold these erring officials accountable.

Mr. President, we are very lucky because our population is young and I can say that theyhave big dreams for this country, they are aware of their role to quest for justice and equity for Filipinos, and to fight corruption; they are fully aware of their moral obligation to make a difference in this country, even in just a small corner of it.

The Barangay, on the other hand, is a forum wherein the collective views of the people may be expressed, crystallized and considered. That's why it is not hard to imagine why barangay residents, together with faith-based organizations and civil society organizations, collaborate on common pursuits, join forces to eradicate communal problems, and mutually gain in the process.

Therefore, this proposal is not meant to belittle the role of the barangay and the sangguniang kabataan in our political life. It is out of respect for these institutions that I submit this proposal to ensure that we have meaningful elections.

I urge my colleagues for full and unequivocal support for this measure.

Maraming salamat po at pagpalain tayo ng ating Panginoon.

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