For the past week, the buzz has all been about how the House of Reps is vigorously pushing for the postponement of the B&SK elections. With that much coverage given to the House efforts, it seemed to everyone that postponement was a done deal.
Well, it isn’t.
Approval of the Bill in the House only gets them halfway there. There’s still the Senate to contend with. And based on this article – which I nicked from the Manila Bulletin Online – it doesn’t look like the postponement boat will encounter placid waters in the Upper Chamber.
By Manny Villar
OUR barangay system of governance brings democracy to the lowest community level. It is a vital instrument in enabling the people to feel and interact with government directly.
The political role of barangays in strengthening democracy in the country cannot be overemphasized.
Every effort must be exerted to firm up the credibility and the relevance of the barangays. This implies that the right of barangay residents to choose their kagawads and punong barangays as provided for by the law must be respected and upheld. It also follows that the holding of barangay elections as legally specified and scheduled should be sustained.
Indeed, it was bad enough that the last scheduled barangay elections were postponed. Another postponement would be worse. It would trivialize the whole meaning of participatory democracy at the community level.
No doubt funding an electoral exercise on a nationwide scale exerts pressure on the national treasury. But any election is the heart and soul of democracy.
Moreover, a second postponement of barangay elections would be beneficial only to present barangay officials who are already holding office beyond their terms. Another postponement would simply extend their terms some more to the prejudice of barangay residents.
A second postponement of barangay elections can only be construed by the people that the barangay system of governance is the least of our national priorities. Why is there a budget for another national election and none for choosing barangay leaders? To ordinary people, it does not seem to make sense.
And assuming that the October barangay elections will be moved to 2008 or 2009, what assurance is there that a third postponement will not be proposed? If budgetary constraint is the main argument for the second postponement, will this problem disappear next time?
This whole practice of postponing barangay elections may become habitual to a point when the people will be indifferent to the barangay system.
This possibility should never be allowed to happen.
Money used for holding the October barangay elections is really an investment in democracy. An investment in making people believe that their right to choose their barangay officials is inviolable.
As they say nowadays, waleh keng ketulad, meni!