Lo­cal voices heard once more

Southeast Asia Globe - - Panorama - Musaazi Namiti

This month, Philip­pine vot­ers will flock to the polls in the lo­cal barangay elec­tions and also choose their first youth rep­re­sen­ta­tives in five years in the sang­gu­ni­ang ka­bataan elec­tions. South­east Asia Globe spoke to Rappler re­porter Michael Bueza about what these lo­cal elec­tions mean for the Philip­pine peo­ple

How sig­nif­i­cant are barangay and sang­gu­ni­ang

ka­bataan (SK) elec­tions?

The govern­ment’s pro­grammes are coursed through barangays – the small­est ad­min­is­tra­tive di­vi­sion in the Philip­pines – for de­liv­ery to Filipinos. They also pro­vide ba­sic ser­vices like those on health and peace and or­der, es­pe­cially con­cern­ing the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ‘war on drugs’.

Why have they been re­peat­edly post­poned and what is at stake?

The orig­i­nal Oc­to­ber 2016 sched­ule was pushed to Oc­to­ber 2017, then to May 2018. The govern­ment ex­plained that the post­pone­ments were nec­es­sary mainly be­cause of the fear that money from il­le­gal drug oper­a­tions would in­flu­ence the elec­tions.

Now that five years have passed since the last barangay elec­tions in 2013, the govern­ment ex­pects that the barangay lead­ers have made sig­nif­i­cant ef­forts to clear their barangays of il­le­gal drugs and crim­i­nal­ity.

How are these elec­tions or­gan­ised to en­sure they’re free and fair?

With its years of ex­pe­ri­ence in con­duct­ing elec­tions, the Com­mis­sion on Elec­tions has set up mech­a­nisms to en­sure orderly elec­tions, make it ac­ces­si­ble to ev­ery­body, in­clud­ing the el­derly and per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties, and pre­vent elec­toral fraud. The com­mis­sion may also deputise po­lice­men and sol­diers if the need arises in ‘hotspots’ or ar­eas with highly po­lit­i­cally charged sit­u­a­tions.

There are also laws that reg­u­late elec­tion campaigns – es­pe­cially in terms of cam­paign spend­ing and cam­paign ads in mass me­dia – so that, in the­ory, rich and cash-strapped can­di­dates would be on equal foot­ing. It should be noted, though, that voter in­tim­i­da­tion and new forms of elec­toral fraud have been re­ported in some ar­eas in re­cent elec­tions.

The barangay elec­tions de­ter­mine which com­mu­nity lead­ers would get to ad­min­is­ter those ser­vices and pro­grammes on be­half of the govern­ment. They also get to have perks, such as dis­cre­tion over the share of tax rev­enues given to barangays. A vic­tory in these elec­tions could also serve as a step­ping stone to ei­ther the city or pro­vin­cial halls.

Mean­while, the SK, or youth coun­cil, elec­tions pave the way for the Filipino youth to par­tic­i­pate in barangay mat­ters. How­ever, the elec­tion post­pone­ment laws did not pro­vide for holdover or in­terim SK lead­ers. So since 2013, there have been no youth rep­re­sen­ta­tives in barangays.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Cambodia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.