No reason to postpone 2018 village polls: DND

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday said he sees no reason for the scheduled May 2018 barangay (village) elections in Mindanao to be postponed despite Congress’ approval of one-year martial law extension.

“We see no reason why the barangay election will not push through,” Lorenzana told Senator Francis Escudero during the latter’s interpellation during the Congress’ joint session to tackle the martial law extension request at the House of Representatives.

Escudero wanted to know the intention and plan of the Duterte administration with respect to the upcoming barangay elections in Mindanao in relation to the proposed one-year extension of martial law.

Lorenzana further explained that the postponement of barangay elections would be a “case-to-case basis” such as if there were violent incidents that would prevent the electorate from voting.

He said his department would advise the Commission on Elections (Comelec) accordingly if such incidents happen.

Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra explained that the matter of postponing any election lies at the discretion of the Comelec based on recommendations by people who know the peace and order situation in localities concerned.

He also assured that the martial law extension “is not intended to lead to a situation where elections will not be conducted.”

“That is never the purpose of the president’s proclamation of martial law,” Guevarra said.

Comelec earlier said that they would be in consultation with security officials, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of National Defense, Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines with respect to what steps they would be undertaking.

Last September, Comelec postponed barangay elections in the entire Mindanao, which is currently under martial law. Polls were originally scheduled October 2017. (PNA)