(File photo)

MANILA – Cagayan de Oro City Representative Rufus Rodriguez on Thursday said Republic Act No. 11935, the law postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) from Dec. 5 this year to Oct. 30, 2023, is “a valid and legal legislation” of Congress.

Voting for the postponement bill, Rodriguez said there is no specific provision in the Constitution that prohibits the deferment of the barangay and SK elections.

“The law is constitutional and is a valid and legal legislative act of the Congress,” he said in a statement.

“The term limit of elected local government officials provided in Section 8, Article 10 of the Constitution expressly excludes that of the barangay officials, which accordingly shall be determined by law,” he added.

This clearly gives the Congress the jurisdiction or authority to pass and enact laws governing the term and elections of barangay and SK officials, he said.

The Mindanao lawmaker said the enabling law that provided the term and elections of barangay and SK officers is RA No. 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991, which is a product of the powers and functions of the legislative branch of the government, and can therefore be amended or revoked by the Congress.

Rodriguez issued the statement ahead of Friday’s oral arguments hearing set by the Supreme Court on the petition of lawyer Romulo Macalintal questioning the constitutionality of RA 11935, the law postponing BSKE.

He refuted Macalintal’s assertion that the authority to postpone an election is vested with the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

He said it is “not completely correct to say that only the Comelec has the authority or power to cancel or postpone the barangay and SK elections because there is nothing in the Omnibus Election Code that exclusively supports such a concept.”

“Although Section 45, Article 6 of the Omnibus Election Code provides that the conduct of barangay elections can be postponed in certain serious cases upon a verified petition, there is nothing in the said law that exclusively gives the power or authority to cancel or postpone the elections to the Comelec,” he said.

Rodriguez said there is also nothing in the Constitution that gives the Comelec the exclusive jurisdiction or authority to cancel or postpone the conduct of any election, including that of the barangay and SK officers.

“The 1987 Constitution, however, gives the Comelec the power to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, people’s initiative, referendum, and recall. This means that the poll body cannot act independently on its own, but rather must comply and execute election–related laws,” he said.

“Be that as it may, the Omnibus Election Code, like the Local Government Code, being an act of the Congress, can be amended or revoked by the Congress, the same body that passed and enacted the same,” he added. (PNA)