Duterte eyes declaring all barangay posts vacant in October
BACOLOD CITY – President Duterte doesn’t only want the barangay elections postponed in October. He also wants to end the term of all barangay officials and replace them by his appointees.
This was disclosed by Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno in an interview during the opening of the 15th meeting of the Asean Senior Officials Responsible for Information at the SMX Convention Center in Bacolod City.
“The reason the President wants the barangay elections postponed is that he does not want those financed by drug lords to win,” said Sueno.
Asked about the legality of the move, Sueno said it was not the first time that the barangay elections were postponed.
It was supposed to be held last year but it was rescheduled for October this year, he added.
“The barangay officials’ terms have already ended so their posts can be declared vacant,” he said.
“Under the President’s plan, all barangay posts will be declared vacant in October and persons not involved in drugs will be appointed in their place,” Sueno said.
He pointed out that if the barangay elections would proceed as planned, the winners might be financed by drug money.
Sueno assured that they would get inputs from the Department of the Interior and Local Government, nongovernment organizations and groups supporting the President on this plan.
Asked if those from the opposition would be given a chance to be appointed, he replied: “Politics po into so paano iyon (This is politics. How could that be)?”
Sueno denied that the move was being done to strengthen the political hold of the President in the country.
“It is towards cleaning our barangays of leaders who are involved [in] drugs and who are corrupt,” he said.
“This is not being done [in] support of the President or any party. It is to eliminate drugs and corruption,” he added.
Sueno, however, said there was no mention about postponing the Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
On Tuesday, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said he was not in favor of the proposal to again postpone the barangay elections.
He said President Duterte’s plan to appoint the barangay officials himself was unconstitutional.
“The barangay captains should be elected so they can be replaced by qualified ones,” Alejano said.
The President has been making announcements about martial law because he has a dictatorship mentality, he said.
“We should allow the people to vote. I don’t think it will be healthy if we continue to postpone the barangay elections,” he added.
During a speech before the first general assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) at the Manila Hotel last week, President Duterte wanted the barangay elections postponed again.
He said he did not want the barangay election held this year due to the purported influence of drug money in the political exercise.
“Since six or seven years ago, we were already a narco-politics state,” the President told around 1,300 municipal mayors in his speech aired by government network PTV-4.
“When can we expect to have clean elections, free of the corrupting influence of the money from drugs? This year? I told Senate President (Aquilino Pimentel III) and (House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez) to tell legislators that if we hold the barangay elections now…patay (we’re dead),” the President said. -with Nestor P. Burgos Jr. and Rachel Arnaiz
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