Marcos wants barangay polls postponed
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Speaking to around 80 barangay (village) officials of the city on Thursday, March 17, vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr said that he is pushing for the postponement of the barangay elections this year.
“Let’s do what we did with the postponement of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections. If we postpone the elections, we have time to study and reform the system. Like the SK, after two years, we now have the SK Reform Bill,” he said in Filipino. (READ: Aquino signs law for Sangguniang Kabataan reforms)
Barangays are the smallest administrative division in the country.
The senator’s statement comes after Vice President and presidential candidate Jejomar Binay said on Tuesday, March 15, that he would postpone the barangay elections this year if he wins.
“Barangay officials, you can sleep soundly. If I become president, there will be no barangay elections this year,” Binay said in his sortie in Vigan City.
According to Marcos, the Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas (League of Barangays in the Philippines) asked him in 2011 to change the term limits of barangay officials. He is the chairman of the Senate committee on local governments.
“They proposed a 5-year-term, 3-term limit. I talked to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) about this,” Marcos said.
The senator added that the DILG agreed on a 5-year-term, 2-term-limit compromise, but Malacañang Palace rejected the proposed change.
“That’s why I said we should discuss this more. But your requests did not stop. This is one of the last bills we’re waiting for now,” Marcos said.
He added: “My plan is for the House of Representatives to pass the bill postponing the barangay elections. During the time of the postponement, we’ll study your proposal again so we can change the term limits.”
The law would have to be amended for this plan to push through. Republic Act Number 9164, which was amended by RA 9340, requires the holding of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls every 3 years, on the last Monday of October.
Empowering local governments
Marcos, who drew on his experience as 3-term governor of Ilocos Norte, said the national government needs to listen more to local officials.
“The national government should not dictate what they want to local governments units. It’s the other way around. We need to give more voice to LGUs on how the national government is run,” the senator said.
“I always tell my friends in the national government that we need to listen more to our barangay officials because, unlike us sitting in our air-conditioned offices, they do the ground work,” he added.
Marcos also promised that he would push for retirement benefits for barangay officials. Unlike other LGU officials and employees, barangay officials are not qualified for retirement benefits under the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) because they are not given salaries but allowances.
“Given all the work we make you do and all the sacrifices you do, we should give you benefits on your retirement. Most of the time, the things we make you do are no longer in your job description but you still serve,” Marcos added.
In 2011, Marcos filed the Barangay Retirement Benefits Bill, seeking to give 1% of the national government’s 60% Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) share to barangay officials and volunteers’ retirement benefits. The bill passed the Senate on 3rd and final reading in December 2015.
Under the proposed law, barangay captains will get around P100,000 and barangay volunteers with P50,000 after 3 terms.
This proposal drew large applause from the audience.
Courting the Cebuano vote
This is Marcos’ first campaign sortie in Cebu, one of the last candidates running for the country’s top two positions to visit.
Cebu is a key province as it has the highest number of registered voters in the country. According to figures released by the Commission on Elections, Cebu now has 2.7 million registered voters, up by 200,000 from 2013.
The province, as seen in past elections, is a stronghold of the administration’s Liberal Party.
While Marcos received a warm welcome during his visit to some the city’s poorest communities, his visit to the city hall was met with protest from some Cebuano youth leaders. (READ: Anti-Marcos Cebu youth threatened with arrest)
“During elections, many national government officials ask help from barangay officials. This is your chance to tell them that they also need to help you by supporting the Barangay Benefits Bill,” Marcos told village officials. – Rappler.com
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