Among the myriad issues of electoral reform, observers may not be that aware of implications of three initiatives that are currently ongoing: 1) the move to reschedule the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections; 2) the move to undertake immediate decisions on the electoral modernization, and; 3) the forthcoming retirement of chairman Benjamin Abalos and two commissioners.
Beneath the full glare of the ZTE broadband scandal involving chairman Abalos, these three initiatives are quietly being pushed by some vested interests within the electoral community. Let me discuss the first one:
BARANGAY AND SK ELECTION POSTPONEMENT. The House of Representatives recently passed (with extraordinary haste, I say) the postponement to 2009 of these elections, which would effectively give the incumbents four years of unmandated term for a total of seven years. If the Senate concurs and the president agrees, it will become a law.
Now, for the catch. It is not a secret that most of these supposedly nonpartisan village or youth leaders are actually ward leaders or partisans of local politicians. Moreover, the majority are usually underlings or allies of the incumbent mayor, congressman or governor. They sit at the bottom ladder of what we termed as “political dynasties.”
The simple logic therefore is: incumbent politicians do not want to change the status quo. The newly-elected politicians want to change these people in order to create their own political machinery and dynasties.
Guess who will win. A hint: Basically, there is a 50-50 split among local incumbents and newly-elected politicians.
What is deplorable is the Commission on Elections double-talk on the issue. It is proclaiming right and left up to the present that there is no obstacle to the October 29, 2007 elections and that the Comelec is ready to implement it. At the same time, it surreptitiously announced to the House committee that it is supporting the move to postpone it.
The proponents’ sole argument: it is too close to the just-concluded May elections. If this is the best argument they can put forward, the public statements of the Comelec would have answered them squarely.
The Comelec is not supposed to recommend the postponement of an election unless there are force majeure or technical factors that it cannot deal with. Their whole constitutional mandate is to ensure the holding of elections.
There is more than meets the eye in this illogical and anti-democratic mantra for postponement of the barangay and SK elections. Any connection to the failing ZTE deal? Or the impending retirement of Comelec commissioners on February 2, 2008. Maybe, to the insistence to have immediate contracts for new automated election machines in time for a deferred barangay and SK elections, 2008 ARMM elections, and even the 2010 elections? Hmmm…!