Mister President, distinguished colleagues, I am honored to co-sponsor Senate Bill 1306 under Committee Report No. 4 of the Committees on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation Joint with Committees on Local Government and Finance.
Let me convey my deepest gratitude and appreciation to our esteemed chair of the Committee on Electoral Reforms, the Lady Senator from Ilocos Norte, Sen. Imee Marcos, for her urgent action on the bill filed by this representation.
This measure, postponing the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to December of next year, is one of my priority bills. It takes place at a pivotal time for our country. The Covid-19 pandemic, which has adversely affected numerous aspects of our daily life, continues to spread among the population for more than two years ever since its arrival in the country. Despite all the advancements we have made since then in trying to mitigate the risks posed by the disease, such as the rollout of vaccines and booster shots, there still exists the need to focus our efforts, resources, and time so that we can truly eradicate this disease and build our economy and our country back to its fullest potential.
Mr. President, our barangays for the past two years of the pandemic, have cooperated with the National Government’s efforts to stop the virus, them being at the frontline in giving social aid to help mitigate its risks. However, the negative consequences of the pandemic also affected the barangay system and its ability to effectuate the programs and policies for which they were put in a position to accomplish. The respectable leaders of the numerous barangays and Sangguniang Kabataan all over the country were not given the opportunity to truly serve their constituents.
With the barangay being the most basic form of government in our country, it serves as the pillar from which the government is able to accomplish its duties and obligations, managing the citizens at a level that the national government simply could not match. It is vital that they be at least given the opportunity to fulfill their electoral mandates, making up for opportunities taken away by the pandemic. It would be most prudent to do so, since by ensuring the execution and implementation of the programs they were elected for, it warrants a better cohesion of government at both the barangay and national level, which is essentially a key to the betterment of our country.
Furthermore, as the most recent national elections have demonstrated, elections in our country have sowed divisiveness and violence among different individuals and groups in our society. Families, friends, and even strangers have attacked each other due to differing political views during the past election, and with majority of the government, including no less than his excellency Ferdinand “Bong Bong” Marcos, advocating for National Unity and Peace and Security, holding an activity that would fuel the still apparent divide in our political system would be most inappropriate.
Sa kongreso po iniatang ng batas ang responsibilidad ng pag-determina ng halalan at termino ng ating mga barangay. At para sa ika pag-kakaisa ng ating politikal na pagkaka-hati-hati, dulot ng nagdaang pambansang halalan;gayun na rin po ay para sa layunin na mabigyan pa ng sapat na pagkakataon ang ating mga barangay na tapusin ang kanilang mga proyekto at programang naantala dahil sa maraming lock-downs at dalawang taon ng pandemya, ay ating ginagamit muli ang kapangyarihan ibinigay sa atin ng batas.
Even though differences in ideals and policies fundamentally vital and indeed the very essence of democratic governance, this representation believes that we need to tackle first the problems which are truly negatively affecting every single Filipino on a day-to-day basis, such as the lingering effects of pandemic, surging inflation and rising cost of living. This bill is set out to fulfill this very objective.
I look forward that this measure will be enacted into law at the soonest possible time. Maraming salamat po.