The barangay is the smallest political subdivision under the country’s bureaucracy. It has been the foundation of most of our leaders today. The barangay serves as the basic sector in government where people seek redress of their grievances against their family members, relatives, neighbors or even people from other barangays whom they have problems with.
In 1990, the election of barangay officials was done by the votation of the 8 barangay kagawads with the topnotcher in terms of votes getting the chance of being the punong barangay or barangay captain while those who place second to the eight position will serve as the barangay kagawads that comprise the barangay council. In 1997, the election of barangay officials was eventually changed wherein there will be aspirants for punong barangay and barangay kagawads who will be voted separately by the electorate. Supposedly, the election of barangay officials was for a period of 3 years, thus, the 2000 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections was eventually moved to July 2002 considering various reasons among others that prompted the previous administration that was encountering rough sailing to reset the elections to gain the support of the masses. For sometime, the election of barangays every 3 years was strictly observed until the present administration wherein the October 2016 barangay and SK polls was rest to October 2017 which was again moved to May 2018.
Today, there are again pending proposals in Congress for the resetting of the May 2018 barangay elections to October this year which will give the incumbent barangay officials at least five years in service. For residents livings in barangays with barangay officials who are doing well, they are surely in favor to the planned resetting of the barangay and SK elections because they are satisfied with the way their officials had been administering the affairs of their barangays but for residents who are served by non-performing barangay officials, they are surely against the resetting of the scheduled elections because they want the present set of barangay officials to be replaced by performing ones.
When the October 2016 barangay and SK elections was reset twice, the primary reason handed down by President Rodrigo R. Duterte was that there are 40 percent of the country’s barangay officials who are included in his drug watchlist and he cannot afford that drug money will be sued by the concerned officials during the elections to maintain power and continue with their illegal activities that allegedly compromise the bright future of today’s youth. The administration’s anti-drug campaign had been going steady over the past two years and its gains were significant, thus, the 40 percent of barangay officials who are into drugs might have been significantly reduced. Now, proponents of the resetting of the barangay and SK elections are reasoning out the lack of time to prepare for the political exercise and the need for the planned shift to federal form of government through the amendment of the Constitution to be passed first so that the plebiscite for the same could be simultaneously done with the barangay and SK elections.
We vehemently disagree to the proposal to again reset the May 2018 barangay and SK elections because it will surely cast doubts on the real intention of the proponents to do so. Federalism advocates should not take advance of the high trust rating of the President to advance their own personal and political interests. People are simply watching in the sidelines and if they see that the intention of the proponents of resetting the barangay and SK elections is not pursuant to public norms and standards, then the trust rating of the Chief Executive will surely dip.
We must realize that there is a snowballing clamor among the people to have a fresh mandate for their barangay officials because nearly five years had passed and they want to either renew their support to their barangay officials or eventually change them for one reason or another. Let us not use the issue on federalism to fool the people into believing that the plebiscite for the shift in the form of government is the underlying reason to reset the scheduled polls. Let us not also use unpreparedness to justify the resetting of the polls because the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) had been preparing for such political exercise even after the first extension expired.