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PIA Press Release

Sync polls' stand divide LMP Bohol

by Rey Anthony Chiu

Tagbilaran City (6 September) -- LEAGUE of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) Bohol Chapter almost passed a resolution supporting the resetting of the October 29 synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls, but the move was retracted later.

Jagna Mayor Exuperio Lloren decided to put the issue aside for reasons of apparent divide in the organization.

Early last week, a House panel approved the postponement of the polls to 2009.

The House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms unanimously approved a consolidated bill postponing the synchronized barangay and SK elections from October this year to second Monday of May 2009.

Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin, chairman of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, said that the authors of the 13 separate bills as well as the officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) have agreed that it would be best to postpone the polls.

Locsin said the decision came after the 13 authors of the measures credited the merits of a postponed election, a fact that four Commissioners also agreed.

Meanwhile, Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos insists that the elections should push through, especially because it is mandated by the law.

In this see-saw of opinions, some Bohol mayors initially proposed a unified move to support Locsin's proposal, but LMP President Exuperio Lloren blocked the support as members became vocal about the issue.

Bohol representative Edgar Chatto, in a radio interview also refused to comment, saying however that he still needs to hear about the contents of the proposal when it would be submitted for plenum.

As this happened, people have been asking the government for a timely consensus in connection with proposals.

"The Government should make up its mind quickly on whether to postpone or not the Oct. 29 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections," Palawan representative Abraham Mitra said adding that this will save the Commission Elections (Comelec) its budget for pre-election preparations.

COMELEC previously said a total P2.13B is allocated for the October 2007 polls. Reports also alleged that the Commission has asked barangays to share 25% for the elections conduct cost.

With only weeks left before the scheduled polls, the Comelec is now in the thick of preparing elections materials for some 310,000 precincts in 41,972 barangays.

Also, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said, if it were all up to Malacanang, the Barangay and SK elections would be held as scheduled next month.

Ermita made the statement in response to a question on the Palace's stand on the proposal of some lawmakers to postpone the Barangay and SK polls.

"First, the Palace will leave it to both houses of Congress to make the decision whether the Barangay and SK elections will be postponed or not," Ermita said.

He recalled that senators, who attended the Legislative and Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meeting in Malacanang last month, felt that the barangay and SK polls would push through.

"The Executive branch is also, at this moment, not for the postponement. However, if the Congress passes a law (postponing the Barangay and SK polls), then we just have to execute it," Ermita said.

By that, Ermita could mean that the Senate should also do a similar thing and agree on a version of a bill equal to the one passed by the House of Representatives.

The Palace official said that the issue has already passed the committee level in the House of Representatives and it will be the subject of deliberations in both legislative chambers.

Ermita pointed out that under the 2007 national budget, the government has provided P138.9 million for the SK general registration of voters held last July, and P2.1 billion for the Barangay election.

"So the government is ready for the elections in October," Ermita stressed, but that the final decision rests with Congress. (PIA) [top]

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