SPEAKER Pantaleon Alvarez today said postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections until next year will give Congress enough time to enact laws abolishing the SK and the position of barangay kagawad.
“If we move the (barangay) elections to 2017 I think we have enough time to amend the Local Government Code so that by 2017—if Congress will agree on my proposal to abolish the barangay kagawads and the SK—we will be only electing the barangay captain,” said Alvarez in a TV interview.
On the other hand, if the barangay and SK elections scheduled for October this year will push through, Alvarez said reorganizing the government structure in the local level might have to wait out of respect for the mandate of the newly-elected officials whose term would extend up to 2019.
Aside from the reasons he earlier raised in support of his position for the abolition of SK and the post of barangay kagawads, Alvarez said this would free up an estimated P24 billion that the government can devote instead to hike the pay of purok leaders, barangay health workers, barangay tanods and day care workers.
The Speaker noted that the estimated annual budget for the SK is around P8.5 billion while that for barangay kagawads reaches around P15.8 billion.
Alvarez noted that the purok leaders, barangay health workers, barangay tanods and day care workers were the ones who are really working in earnest to deliver services to the residents of their village, yet they receive very little pay.
Earlier, Alvarez said postponing the elections would allow the Executive department to fill up vacant government positions and enable the government to continue work on on-going infrastructure projects, which are not allowed during the election period.
Likewise, Alvarez noted that Malacañang expressed support for the postponement of the barangay and SK elections amid concerns drug money may be used to ensure the victory of barangay officials.
In calling for SK abolition, Alvarez noted that youth leaders elected to SK posts are normally at an age where they are still studying. Because of this, Alvarez said SK officials will either have to sacrifice their duties as SK leader or their studies.
Besides, Alvarez said, youth who are qualified to run for SK posts are also qualified to run for regular positions in local government units and that the youth sector is already well-represented, particularly in Congress.
Likewise, Alvarez said the reality on the ground is such that parents of candidates for SK posts spend for the campaign of their children, sometimes shelling out millions of pesos for the purpose. This, according to Alvarez, makes SK a training ground on how to play dirty politics.
Alvarez said the position of barangay kagawad has to go to because he believes there is no need for the barangay to enact its own ordinances.
The Speaker said many politicians actually agree with his proposal but many of them won’t come out, concerned with the backlash that might result from taking such position. However, Alvarez said he is undaunted.
“Pero ako naman I don’t care. Wala naming tayong ambisyon diyan. Kung kailangan natin yung pagbabago, gawin na natin nang maayos,” said Alvarez.