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In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling that declared unconstitutional the December 5, 2022, Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to October 30, 2023, as unconstitutional, Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez proposed an amendment to the Local Government Code.
This amendment, contained in Bill No. 7123, seeks to extend the term of office of Barangay and SK officials from three years to five years.
“Congress did not interfere, but it has the plenary power to pass the laws, which we made to amend the terms of the barangay officials,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez argued that the current three-year term is not enough for implementing and realizing the impact of local programs.
He also believes that the extension of the election will make the Barangay leaders stronger, reduce the conflicts regarding the election of the people, and ensure that the officials who were elected in October of this year will not face any problems because of the decision. in the Supreme Court.
“We will give everyone voting this year and the next election a uniform term of office of five years, instead of those voting in October having a two-year term and those elected in 2025 having three years,” he said. said.
He said that the barangays and SK officers who will win the October 30 election should not suffer from the decision of Congress to postpone the December 5 election, where the decision was reversed by the Supreme Court by declaring RA No. 11935 as unconstitutional.
“We will correct our mistake by fixing the five-year term of office for all grassroots officers who will be elected starting in October. I will urge the committee on local government to support my proposal,” he added.
The committee has not held a hearing since Rodriguez filed Bill 7123 last February.
The move will amend Section 43 of the Local Government Code, where barangay and SK officials can enjoy a three-year term and three consecutive term limits.
The bill maintains term limits.
In proposing a longer term, Rodriguez said that the three-year term is “too short a time for the unity and stability of the leadership and activities of the barangay.”
“It is not enough to ensure that the barangay programs are carried out properly, especially considering that it is undeniable that the last year of the term was used for the campaign,” he said.
He said the extended term “will ensure more stability at the barangay level and ensure that the programs initiated by the current leaders are implemented.”
“It should be known that elections, national, local, or barangay, have been proven to divide people. The candidates and their supporters are trying to destroy their opponents by using any means necessary just to get victory,” he said.
However, Councilor Yan Lam Lim expressed concern over the Supreme Court’s decision, noting that it may result in shortened terms of office for the winners of the October 2023 elections.
Lim, who is also the president of the Association of Barangay Captains since 2016, pointed out that frequent elections are expensive and can have a significant impact on the economy.
He suggested that Congress should establish clear guidelines on the schedule of Barangay and SK elections.
On the other hand, Lawyer Beverly Selim-Musni, former arbitrator of the NLRC, reminds us that while Congress has the power to pass laws, it cannot directly amend or reverse the decision of the Supreme Court.
Congress may, however, pass new legislation that may influence the interpretation of the statute in future cases.
“This is in line with the principle of separation of powers in the Philippine government,” said Musni
However, Congress has the power to pass new legislation that may affect or change legal principles established by a Supreme Court decision.
If Congress believes that a Supreme Court decision is flawed or needs to be clarified, it can pass a new law that addresses the issue or provide different provisions of the law.
Amidst these discussions, Pat Pangantihon from a Climate advocacy NGO raised questions about the rule of law in the country, implying a possible link between citizens’ rejection of simple laws and their understanding of the Constitution.
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