Press Release
September 27, 2019

Press Statement of Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto
'Time to end the national bad habit of frequently scrapping brgy polls'

We have postponed the barangay elections six times since 1988. The proposed scrapping of the one scheduled in May 2020 will be the 7th. If it pushes through, it will be the 3rd under the Duterte administration, and the first three-peat of its kind in history.

House and Senate debate records would show that every time a bill of postponement is passed, it is premised on the promise that it will be the last.

That was the refrain in 1988, 1989, 2002, 2005, 2016, and 2017. Ang "never again," naging "let me try again."

The result is an elastic term of office for our barangay officials, longer than what they should get.

Elective officials in this land--from the president down to the barangay captain--have the same employment status: they're casuals elected to fixed terms. Endo in 6 years for the president, and 3 years for the rest, which can only be renewed through the ballot box.

After 7 postponements, it is time for durable cures, and not band-aid solutions. Instead of regurgitating the tired, old excuses, we should ask ourselves: Ano nga ba ang dahilan bakit parati na lang ito pinagpapaliban?

Through the ages, the arguments for postponement can be grouped into three: peace and order, election fatigue, savings.

As to the third, the present Comelec price tag of holding a barangay election is almost P6 billion. Ergo, as one back-of-napkin computation showed, if instead of 5 elections in 15 years there will just be 3, the savings is P12 billion.

This is the reason why I manifested in plenary Tuesday my idea that the Senate should finally tackle the bull by its horns and propose a longer term for barangay officials.

Admittedly, this proposal has its pros and cons, but the bottom line is that in governance, whatever the office, a shorter term for a bad official is too long, while a longer term for a good official is too short.

The important thing is that we should now begin looking into a longer term for barangay officials, in the hope that its length would serve as a deterrent to schemes to postpone elections.

Without such a critical amendment in the law on barangays, the president who will come after Duterte, and the next one, and the one after, will succumb to the national bad habit of scrapping barangay polls.

Let me also commend Senator Imee for doing an excellent job in crafting a measure I fully support. The next order of business is to find ways to end the habitual cancellation of barangay elections.

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