WORLD

Philippine congress postpones village polls

PHILIPPINE CONGRESS POSTPONES VILLAGE POLLS

The House of Representatives on Monday postponed village polls, allowing incumbent officials to stay in their posts until May 2018.

Lawmakers supporting President Rodrigo Duterte in the Lower House approved a bill postponing the barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) elections with a vote of 212 against 10 -- of the opposition.

This is the second time the elections have been postponed under Duterte, according to local website Rappler.

Earlier, the House had voted this August to postpone the polls that were due in October.

Postponing elections is a move by the government against village chiefs who are suspected of aiding drug lords, according to local website Inquirer.net.

Based on data provided by the Philippine National Police last September, 94% of the country's 42,000 villages have been infiltrated by illegal drugs.

Duterte said he was considering appointing new village captains instead of holding the elections.

His critics said that the administration should just file cases against village officials with alleged links to illegal drugs, instead of postponing the polls again.

On the other hand, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista said nearly 6 billion peso ($120 million) have been allotted for the village and youth council elections.

He said 50 million peso ($0.98 million) have been spent so far for printing about 400,000 ballot papers, adding that the printing had been halted following the postponement.

Barangay is the smallest of the elected administrative divisions of the Philippines. It has sub-divisions called sitios and puroks but their leadership is not elected.

National Statistics Office record shows, as of June 2015, there are 42,036 barangay captains and 41,995 Sangguniang Kabataan chairmen throughout the country.

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