Senate approves postponement of barangay, SK elections to May 2018

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 20) —  The Senate approved on third and final reading Wednesday the bill postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections from October to May 2018.

In a statement, the chamber said the voting was 17-1 in favor of Senate Bill 1584. Sen. Risa Hontiveros was the lone dissenter.

The bill, authored by Majority Leader Tito Sotto and Senator Richard Gordon, extends the term of barangay officials.

In his sponsorship speech, Gordon said barangay officials are involved in illegal drugs and that 49 percent of the barangays are drug-infested. He said the poll postponement would give ample time for the police to clear up barangays.

President Rodrigo Duterte previously said drug money will be involved in the elections, so his push to postpone it.

In a separate statement, Hontiveros said putting off the polls to a later date puts "too much power" on Duterte.

"Postponing yet again and without sufficient basis the people's democratic process of choosing our barangay leaders and substituting it with the executive power to appoint barangay officials is tantamount to making President Duterte king," she said.

But according to the Senate statement, the bill was approved without clauses allowing the President to make the appointments.

In August, the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms passed a similar bill. This is expected to be taken up in the plenary session for second reading.

Read more: House panel postpones barangay, SK polls anew

If both Senate and House versions come up with identical bills, the proposal will be submitted to Malacañang for the President's signature.