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Still no law postponing Barangay, SK elections?

IT has long been presumed that the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on October 31, 2016, have been postponed to October 23, 2017. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) stopped all its preparations for the elections, as there was a consensus on this matter among the highest officials of the government. October 31 was deemed too close to the just concluded May 9 presidential election and there was election fatigue among the people.

There was also the matter of government appointments that need to be made by the new administration. Last August 21, President Duterte declared vacant all positions occupied by presidential appointees of the previous administration, citing continued corruption in the government, particularly in the regulatory agencies. He has to make new appointments to fill all the vacancies but all such appointments are banned during an election period.

Last September, Congress enacted the bill postponing the October 31 election to next year. Everyone in government, particularly the Comelec, is now awaiting the signing of the bill into law. If it is signed today, October 15, it needs to be published in the Official Gazette for 15 days ending October 30. That would officially make it a law in time for the October 31 elections.

In his first 100 days in office, President Duterte has made a big start in his program for change in the country, concentrating on eliminating the drug menace that has victimized millions of Filipinos. In the process, he has encountered some criticism, because of over 3,000 who have been killed in the course of the anti-drug campaign.

The President has found himself at odds with officials of the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States over the killings. He has also delivered speeches and issued statements indicating his desire to develop closer ties with China and Russia. After visits to Laos and Vietnam, he is now preparing to visit China.

All these concerns have dominated the first 100 days of the new administration, but he should not forget the Barangay and SK elections which, as of today, is legally still on track. He has to sign the bill into law. Without a law, all appointments now being made can be questioned in court. Without a law, the Comelec will have to rush all preparations all over the country for elections nobody is ready for.