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With barely any time left, House moves to postpone barangay, SK polls

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By Xave Gregorio

In a 164-27 vote, the lower House passed Monday (March 19) a bill postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections for a third time, even as it faces stiff opposition in the Senate.

Deputy Speaker Fred Castro first announced that the vote count was 211-29, but was later corrected by the House secretariat after two rounds of voting and after several politikos explained their votes in plenary.

Among those who opposed House Bill No. 7378 are Reps. Gary Alejano, Lito Atienza, Ruffy Biazon, Gabriel Bordado, Ariel Casilao, France Castro, Emmi De Jesus, Raul Del Mar, Sarah Elago, Edcel Lagman, Antonio Tinio and Carlos Zarate.

“These postponements are mockery of the right of suffrage and subversive of the republican system,” Lagman said explaining his vote.

The bill seeks to move the barangay polls to the second Monday of October from May 14. It also moves subsequent barangay elections to the second Monday of October, which would be held every three years.

The village elections had already been postponed twice, after President Rodrigo Duterte warned in speeches that drug lords may fund local politikos’ campaigns.

However, the chances of the bill getting passed into law are slim, with Senate President Koko Pimentel saying in a radio interview over the weekend that none of the senators are supportive of a third suspension of the barangay polls.

Pimentel also emphasized that the bill would have to be referred to the appropriate committee before they start deliberating on the measure on the floor.

Deliberations on bills in the Senate can last for weeks, but there are only three session days remaining before Congress goes on a break until May 13, one day before barangay election day itself.