COMELEC IS READY FOR BARANGAY POLLS
Despite moves in Congress to postpone the barangay elections scheduled in October, it is still all systems go as far as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is concerned.
Starting on Saturday, September 23, those who plan to run for the barangay elections can begin filing their certificates of candidacy (COC), said Comelec Cebu provincial election supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano.
Castillano said they will proceed with the activities lined up in relation to the barangay elections even if it is uncertain if the village polls will push through as scheduled.
“Those who are planning to run for the barangay elections can now visit their respective election officers and ask for a copy of the forms,” he told Cebu Daily News.
He explained that the Comelec en banc has approved Resolution No. 10196 last September 13, which specifies the calendar of election-related activities, starting with the filing of COCs beginning on Saturday.
The filing of COCs will run until September 30, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. including weekends.
Castillano’s pronouncement came even after the House of Representatives, on September 11, approved on third reading House Bill 6308, which seeks to postpone anew the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to May 2018.
Castillano pointed out that the passage of HB 6308 is not enough basis to postpone the barangay elections since it will still require an approval from the Senate before it can become a law. The Senate has yet to deliberate on the issue of postponing the village polls.
“There will really be filing of COCs. As to whether or not the actual elections will push through, we are still 50-50 because we are waiting for the action from the Senate. The Senate has not yet set a timeline when they will pass their version. So the Comelec has not stopped its preparations,” he said.
Comelec Resolution No. 10196 also contains the guidelines for the filing of the COCs, which includes the need for the candidates to submit three legible copies of their sworn COCs to the election officer where their barangay is under.
COCs filed to the wrong office will be deemed not filed. Those filed by mail, electronic mail or facsimile will not be accepted.
Under Comelec Resolution No. 10197, which was promulgated last September 14, the gun ban was announced to start on September 23 and will end on October 30, which is the same time frame as the election period for the barangay polls.
“No person shall bear, carry, or transport firearms or deadly weapons outside his residence or place of business and in all public places, including any building, street, park, and in private vehicles or public conveyances, even if he is licensed or authorized to possess or carry the same, unless authorized by the Commission,” read the resolution.
Applications for exemption from the gun ban will start on September 21.
According to Castillano, no candidate has so far asked from the Comelec provincial office a COC form.
“Nobody has asked for a copy of the form. Most of them just asked if the election will really push through or not,” he said.
But he advised that candidates should already begin preparing to file their COCs without waiting for the decision of the Senate.
Cebu City’s Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) President and Tisa Barangay Captain Philip Zafra agreed with Castillano.
“If the filing is set (to start) on the 23rd, then we will file within the filing period. If it will be postponed, then everything will go on as usual in our barangays,” he told CDN.
“As I said, we are ready for that. It’s just there are some in Congress that want it postponed. Until such time that it is really postponed, we will remain ready,” he added.
Zafra, who is still in his first term, said he himself is planning to run for reelection in Barangay Tisa.
He said most of the incumbent barangay officials in the city’s 80 barangays are also planning to run for reelection unless they are on their third and last terms.
He recalled that in the 2013 barangay elections, they started gathering sitio (subvillage) leaders and conducting meetings a week before the filing of COCs.
But no such visits or meetings are being done at this time by barangay elections hopefuls.
“But since we are incumbent barangay officials, our campaign later on will just be more on reporting to our constituencies what we have done for our barangays in the past years that we are in office. Whatever they hear or see, they may appreciate it or not. It will be their decision,” he said.
Zafra added that some barangay officials have confided to him about their concerns on the uncertainties surrounding the barangay elections.
He said they don’t want the continued uncertainty to hamper the delivery of basic services in the different barangays. This is why he said he hopes the Senate will act fast on the plan to postpone the elections, if that is really their intention.
Zafra explained that the campaign and election periods will also mean suspension of the approval and implementation of infrastructure projects in the barangays, as well as the ban on hiring and appointment of personnel among others.
Pasil Barangay Captain Julius Guioguio shared the same sentiment as Zafra.
Like him, Guioguio is also still in his first term as barangay captain and plans to run for reelection.
“I will follow the Comelec. I will really file my COC while there is still no law on the postponement. That is also the advice of my adviser — to just file my COC,” he told CDN.
Guioguio said that unlike in the previous elections when preparations were put in place long before they filed their COCs, he and his prospective lineup of barangay councilmen have not even meet yet to prepare for their campaign plan.
Calls for the postponement of the barangay elections were bolstered by claims of President Rodrigo Duterte that 40 percent of the barangay officials in the country are involved in illegal drugs and that elections may be marred by narco-politics.
The President even hinted that he may just appoint interim barangay officials until the next election.
But some barangay captains disagree with having presidential appointees in lieu of elected village officials.
“I don’t agree with that because that is not in our Constitution. You have to change our Constitution to do that. You are taking away the right of the people to choose who will serve them,” Guioguio said.
The same was said by Zafra who said the nature of the positions of barangay officials is elective.
He said it will be unconstitutional and that he does not know what legal basis would be made by President Duterte to give him the authority do so.
Apas Barangay Captain Ramil Ayuman, for his part, said that incumbent barangay officials could still be the ones appointed by the President.
“If we will be appointed, that will be a bonus as our terms will be extended. If I’ll be appointed, then good. But if not, it’s okay. What’s important is we do what we have to do and that we don’t have any involvement in illegal drugs,” Ayuman told CDN.
Ayuman is on his third and final term as barangay captain.
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