Duterte wants village execs appointed
BACOLOD CITY—President Duterte wants barangay elections scheduled in October to be postponed indefinitely, and all village officials removed and replaced by his appointees, according to Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno.
Sueno, interviewed at the opening of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ senior officials’ meeting here, said he found nothing illegal about removing the village officials and replacing them with appointees.
“The reason the President wants the barangay elections postponed is that he does not want those financed by drug lords to win,” Sueno said.
Asked about the legality of the move, Sueno said he did not believe it would be illegal as it would not be the first time that barangay elections were postponed.
It was supposed to be held last year but it was moved to 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 said if the barangay elections are to proceed as scheduled, candidates financed by drug syndicates could emerge as winners.
To make sure village officials would not have any links to the drug trade, Sueno said the President would appoint all officials from barangay captains to councilors through the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The local officials, especially the mayors, would be consulted because Malacañang does not know everyone in the villages, Sueno said.
Sueno said the President would consult the DILG, nongovernment organizations and groups supporting the President.
Asked if those from the opposition would be given a chance to be appointed, he replied: “This is politics. How could that be?”
Sueno denied that the move was being done to strengthen the political hold of the President.
“It is for cleaning our barangays of leaders who are involved with drugs and who are corrupt,” he said.
“This is not being done for 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 elections for youth councils, or Sangguniang Kabataan.
On Tuesday, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said he opposed the proposal to again postpone the barangay elections.
He said Mr. Duterte’s plan to appoint barangay officials 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,” Alejano said.
During a speech before the first general assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) at the Manila Hotel last week, Mr. Duterte said he wanted the barangay elections postponed again.
He said he did not want the barangay elections held this year due to the purported influence of drug money in the choice of candidates.
“Since six or seven years ago, we were already a narcopolitic state,” the President told some 1,300 municipal mayors in his speech at the LMP gathering.
“When can we expect to have clean elections, free of the corrupting influence of the money from drugs? This year?” he said.
He said he asked Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to “tell legislators that if we hold the barangay elections now, we’re dead.” —WITH NESTOR P. BURGOS AND RACHEL ARNAIZ
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