Lawyer: Why freeze bgy, SK polls sans law?

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 17 2016 04:54 PM

Veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal questioned Monday the halting of activities related to the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections despite the absence of a law stopping the electoral exercise. 

Macalintal said there is no law yet on delaying or stopping the barangay and SK polls scheduled on October 31. 

"I cannot see any authority from the Commission on Elections postponing or stopping its activities ganung wala namang batas na dapat maipatupad tungkol sa bagay na yan. Parang ang lumalabas ngayon, the Comelec is implementing a non-existing law," he said.

Last September, the poll body issued a resolution to suspend all activities related to the barangay and SK elections, citing Congress' favoring to postpone the polls. Both the House and the Senate later approved respective bills postponing the elections to October 23, 2017. 

The proposed measure, however, awaits the president's signature.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said he does not want the barangay and SK polls to be conducted this year, fearing that funds for the polls may be used for activities related to illegal drugs.

Macalintal fears that this sets a bad precedent.

"Nakakatakot itong ganitong uri ng panuntunan ng Comelec kasi baka dumating ang araw na kahit na election ng pangulo ng Pilipinas ay pwedeng i-postpone at magkakaroon ng extension ng term of office. Kaya sa ngayon ako ay naniniwala na kahit lumabas ang isang batas tungkol sa postponement, yan ay labag sa Saligang Batas sapagakat ang ating Kongreso...ay walang kapangyarihan to postpone an election," he said.

[This kind of principle of the Comelec is scary because the day may come that even the presidential elections can be postponed and they can have term extensions. Right now I believe that even if a law on election suspension comes out, that is still against the law because Congress has no power to postpone an election.)

Macalintal reiterated that postponing the polls extends the terms of office of incumbent barangay officials, which may be deemed unconstitutional.