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Lawmaker insists Congress can defer village elections

PHILIPPINE STAR/ WALTER BOLLOZOS

A LAWMAKER on Thursday defended Congress’ power to postpone village elections set for December.

“The law is constitutional and is a valid and legal legislative act of Congress,” Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez, a member of the committee on suffrage, said in a statement.

“There is no specific or categorical provision in the 1987 Constitution that prohibits the deferment of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan  elections,” he added. He also said the term limit imposed by the Charter on local officials does not cover village officials.

Mr. Rodriguez said this clearly gives Congress the jurisdiction to pass and enact laws relating to village elections.

Mr. Rodriguez made the remarks after election lawyer Romulo B. Macalintal asked the Supreme Court to stop the deferment of the elections to October 2023. The plaintiff argued only the Commission on Elections (Comelec) can defer village elections.

“It is not completely correct to say that only the Comelec has the authority or power to cancel or postpone the barangay and SK elections because there is nothing in the Omnibus Election Code that exclusively supports such concept,” he added.

Mr. Rodriguez noted that under the law, village elections can be postponed in serious cases, but it does not exclusively give Comelec the power to cancel or postpone these.

Alberto C. Agra, a lawyer and election law professor at the Ateneo de Manila University, said in a Viber message the exclusion of village officials in constitutional term limits and congressional power to fix their term are arguments for the election deferment.

On the other hand, the postponement violates the right to vote since voters are deprived to choose their officials.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. signed the law on Oct. 10 that moved the elections from December to October next year. The elections will be held on the last Monday of October 2023 and every three years thereafter, according to the law.

Mr. Macalintal said the law violates voters’ right to due process since they would be forced to accept village leaders whose terms would be extended.

The high tribunal has set hearings on the case for Oct. 21. — Kyanna Angela Bulan

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