With the proposed postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections gaining momentum in Congress, Senator Richard J. Gordon proposed that the Senate should take it as an opportunity to envision improvement in the electoral system and the Local Government Code that would also make Congress more effective.
Though not opposed to resetting the said elections, Gordon wanted to put a wider perspective into the debate because barangay officials are very important, being the officials who are closest to the people.
“I am just trying to put perspective into the approach. This is no simple postponement. And I’d like to interest the Senate into looking at a wider vision on how we can be more effective… I’m trying to lead the discussion into a vision game. Vision, namely that when we elect our leaders, we should elect the best,” he said.
The barangay and SK elections is set for October 31, 2016 but there is a very loud call for a one-year postponement.
The senator pointed out that the government and the people should benefit from the postponement. Congress should take it as an opportunity to inject reforms in the electoral process by amending election laws and the Local Government Code.
“When we postpone it, there must be some benefit from it. That when we postpone, we should really look into, perhaps the Local Government Code. I do not propose, by any means, that we should eliminate the barangay captains or barangay kagawads, but maybe it’s a good time for us, especially since these are early days, to look into the situation a little bit more studiously. We could have reforms in the electoral process starting with the barangays. I am here not to oppose but to propose. We should be able to build a better mousetrap,” he said.
Gordon said Congress could amend the term limits set by law for local officials. They could also make the elections less expensive by limiting the campaign to conducting debates in the barangay to enable the people to be more informed in selecting barangay officials. They should do away with costly campaign activities such as the conduct of house-to-house campaigns, holding meetings that would entail food distribution.
He stressed that it is improper that the matter of postponement is raised after every election because the political exercise should be treated with sanctity and not dealt with in a very cavalier manner.
“The matter of voting for public officials is a very high responsibility by the citizens of this country. We must not trifle with it by saying or giving all sorts of excuses. I just want to know what is the crucial matter in the postponement. I would imagine that we should be able to present a more cogent vision of what our local government must be. If we fear that there are too many elections, then so be it. Let us come up with a law that will say we will only have elections every three years and no successive elections shall take place,” Gordon said.