Senator Sonny Angara was optimistic yesterday that the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in May and the 2019 midterm elections will push through.
Even if two bills have been filed in the Lower House for the postponement of the BSKE polls in May, no senator has filed a counterpart measure in the Senate, unlike in previous years, Angara said.
“Last year the president invited us to dinner and asked us for a postponement (of the BSKE)…this year he has not said anything,” Angara, who was in Bacolod to address the 1,721 participants of the Iloilo Liga ng Mga Barangay Congress at the SMX Convention Center in Bacolod City, said at a press conference.
It is now up to Congress, although the President has said he prefers that the elections push through, presidential spokesman Harry Roque also said yesterday.
Although there are pending bills in the House of Representatives, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III has said there seems to be no support for further postponement of the BSKE in the Senate, Roque added.
In his speech in Davao City on Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte said he would not recommend another postponement of the barangay polls.
The BSKE has been postponed many times , it is time to give the people a chance to have a say on choosing their leaders, Angara said.
Angara said he also believes the 2019midterm elections will push through.
It is possible that the proposed Charterchange for a shift toward federalism will be ready for a plebiscite in 2019,so it could be held simultaneously with the midterm polls, Angara said.
Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. challenged the Iloilo barangay captains at the congress to set a good example in the May polls by not engaging in money politics and harassment of voters.
The barangay and SK election should serve as a model for the conduct of elections in the country which should be clean, fair and honest, he said.
Defensor also urged the barangay captains to support the efforts of the Duterte administration to change the country’s form of government to federalism.
Federalism would strengthen local autonomy and would empower the barangay as the lowest unit of the government, he said.
However, Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, reiterated that the proposed shift towards a federal government still has a long way to go in the legislative process.
The same goals of local autonomy and proper allocation of collective resources can still be achieved in an even more expeditious manner, Angara said.
That is why he is s pushing for reforms under the Local Government Code, including a bigger share of resources for local governments. He noted that under the current set up, it is a 60-40 sharing in favor of the national government.
Asked if he thought the current push towards federalism is unstoppable, Angarasaid he would rather ask: Is it doable?
The senator told the barangay captains a review of the Local Government Code has been undertaken to identify areas where the barangays can be strengthened.
He cited the need for additional resources for the barangays to enable them to provide better basics services to their constituents, and longer terms for barangay officials.
Angara also said he is seeking the inclusion of executive check-ups and laboratory costs in PhilHealth’s primary care package, pending the approval of the universal health coverage bill.
Emphasis in health care must be shifted towards preventive measures, he said.
“This is a first step while the deliberation of the UHC bill, which seeks to provide every Filipino citizen access to a comprehensive set of health services without financial hardship, is still ongoing,“Angara said.
Angara recently filed Senate Bill 1673 entitled “An Act of providing for a universal health coverage for Filipinos and appropriating funds therefore.”*CPG
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