CDO mayor, barangay officials support bill postponing village polls

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/26 April)—The bill filed by this city’s 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez postponing the barangay elections and amending the terms of office of barangay officials, has gained the support of City Mayor Vicente Emano and the Liga ng Barangay, who called the bills “valid and well-founded.”

Emano today said he sees no problem with Rodriguez’ bill. “I don’t see any problem with postponing the barangay elections. Uyon kaayo ko ana,” (I’m very agreeable to it) he said.

The city’s Liga ng Barangay, echoing the sentiment of its national counterpart, passed Resolution 011-2012 expressing “support to the various bills pending in Congress, calling for the resetting of barangay elections with the end in view of extending the term of office of barangay officials to more than three years.”

In an interview today, Barangay Consolacion Chair Cesar Pagapulaan said postponing the barangay elections will not only enable the Aquino administration to cut on government spending but would also give the incumbent barangay officials ample time to “wrap up their various revenue generation and livelihood assistance projects.”

The bill proposes to add two more years to the term of incumbent barangay officials.

Rodriguez, the bill’s principal author, said the postponement will enable the national government to save up to P3 billion.

“Imagine how much the national government spends for the barangay elections every three years for the 42,000 barangays in the country. This government spending could be better used for various infrastructure and livelihood projects directly to the barangays,” said Pagapulaan.

Ha also said that a three-year term hardly gives them enough time to “effectively implement development and livelihood projects.”

“Organizing for livelihood assistance project alone takes up at least a whole year to do. You could not really assess if a certain project has had any meaningful impact in the community. Even the continuity of programs implemented by the incumbent officials cannot be assured.” Pagapulaan added.

He cited the practice of “traditional politics of new programs by every new slate of barangay officials.”

Pagapulaan further proposed that the savings from the postponement should be distributed equally to the 42,000 barangays “directly.”

He said that for the longest time ever, “barangay units are constantly at the mercy of the city government.”

“We know the problems in our barangays because we are on the ground. I am not against the incumbent leadership at City Hall but I do not want to be trampled also. I know I am just a tributary, I have to eventually go to the river,” said Pagapulaan.

For his part, Barangay 23 Chair Jaime Frias II said the proposed postponement of the barangay elections all depends on President Benigno S. Aquino III.

“It depends on P-Noy. While majority in Congress favors the postponement, but P-Noy’s allies in Congress—though only few—killed the proposal (at the committee level). (This) could happen again,” Frias said in an emailed statement today.

He cited their experience during the National Liga ng mga Barangay Convention where they expected President Aquino to “announce or proclaim (the) postponement of barangay elections.”

“Village chiefs were expecting it, but P-Noy just delivered his speech for around three minutes and walked out. It was a bum for all of us,” he said.

Frias added the savings that can be had by postponing the elections may mean additional funds for infrastructure and livelihood project for the barangays.

“I have a funny feeling if the contention of the bill is that (postponement) could save billions. What if Congress decides to synchronize the barangay elections with the senatorial and local elections just because of that contention? There are already rumors spreading that it could happen,” he said. (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)