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Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Opinion -

t has been a while. When Ro­drigo Duterte took over as pres­i­dent in 2016, among his ini­tial moves was to work for the post­pone­ment of the barangay elec­tions set for that year. Since then, the ques­tion that some of my friends who are also barangay of­fi­cials ask me had been, “Will the barangay elec­tions be held?” They ob­vi­ously hoped the an­swer would be in­sti­tut­ing re­forms. Among the most telling change was the in­sti­tu­tion of the anti-po­lit­i­cal dy­nasty pro­vi­sion for the elec­tions. Some mem­bers of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives ac­tu­ally floated the pos­si­bil­ity of the barangay and SK elec­tions post­poned again this year in keep­ing with the plan to rush the coun­try’s shift to a fed­eral setup. House Speaker Pan­ta­leon Al­varez even raised the “no-el” or no elec­tions scheme for the 2019 midterm elec­tions. But the Se­nate didn’t have any­thing to do with it, shoot­ing down the no-el sce­nario.

With the bar­ri­ers breached, the barangay and SK elec­tions would fi­nally be held as sched­uled next month, with the Com­mis­sion on Elec­tions (Comelec) an­nounc­ing the start of the fil­ing of the cer­tifi­cates of can­di­dacy to­mor­row. My friends who want to run for re­elec­tion and those who are not barangay of­fi­cials yet but have po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions at the barangay level will be troop­ing to Comelec of­fices to­mor­row un­til April 20.

I have al­ready writ­ten about my pref­er­ence for the hold­ing of the barangay and SK elec­tions be­cause I be­lieve in the im­por­tance of elec­tions in rein­vig­o­rat­ing gov­er­nance. Pres­i­dent Duterte be­lieve some barangay of­fi­cials have links to the il­le­gal drug trade and wants them purged first be­fore elec­tions are held. That he is now open to the hold­ing of the polls proves the im­pos­si­bil­ity of do­ing the purg­ing first.

It is now up to the barangay con­stituents if they would al­low a narco-politi­cian to be­come their leader. But I think ma­jor­ity of the vot­ers don’t want the il­le­gal drugs trade to strengthen and pro­lif­er­ate so they won’t al­low a narco-politi­cian to win. The most im­por­tant thing here is that they should be given a chance to choose their own lead­ers, which is one of the re­quire­ments of a func­tion­ing democ­racy.

We would be look­ing at some barangays where politi­cians in the level of the prov­inces, cities and towns would be dip­ping their fin­gers into be­cause of the elec­tions’ ef­fect on the setup in the lo­cal leg­isla­tive bod­ies. An ex­am­ple is Cebu City where the hold of the cur­rent ma­jor­ity in the Cebu City Coun­cil is frag­ile. This could change when, af­ter the elec­tions, new heads of the barangay and SK fed­er­a­tions would take over.

The key there is to have as many win­ning barangay cap­tains and SK chair­per­sons as pos­si­ble. City Coun­cilor Philip Zafra could be re­placed af­ter this and a new SK fed­er­a­tion head in the city added. That could tilt the bal­ance in the coun­cil ei­ther way.

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