Solons alarmed by Duterte plan to appoint village execs
Opposition lawmakers on Friday rejected President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to declare all barangay (village) seats vacant and appoint these officials in his bid to weed out drugs from the most basic local government unit.
In separate statements, Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin said this move reeks of “dictatorial tendencies,” while Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said this violated the public’s right to elect their leaders.
It was Duterte’s Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno who said the President wanted to suspend this year’s barangay elections indefinitely and appoint the officials instead.
Villarin warned that the Marcos dictatorship used the barangays as its machinery to monitor and control the people.
“Imagine the possibilities of appointing at least eight officials in each of the 43,000 barangays all over the country. That’s 344,000 people at the beck and call of the President!” Villarin said.
The lawmaker said if there are barangay officials involved in the drug trade, “let the people kick them out through the ballot.”
“Give that power to the people, not to one person. That’s the essence of democracy,” Villarin said.
Alejano for his part said Duterte’s plan to appoint barangay officials “undermines the rights of the people to choose their leaders.”
He said the President should instead file criminal and administrative charges to strip these officials of their posts.
Alejano said Duterte’s alleged list of “narcopoliticians” remains a mere list and should not be used to justify Duterte’s move to control the government unit.
“He better stop using it to justify short circuiting the system and justify his desire to control politics in the grassroots,” Alejano said.
Duterte renewed his call to appoint the barangay officials following his signing into law the postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to 2017.
He said he would want to suspend this year’s polls and appoint barangay officials instead over fears that drug lords would bankroll candidates in the next barangay elections.
In a radio interview, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he found it a “valid” motive for the President to appoint barangay officials.
Alvarez, a staunch ally of the President, said there would be no constitutional infirmities in the move as long as Congress would amend the Local Government Code.
“Wala akong problema diyan at suportado ko ang ating Pangulo diyan dahil napaka-valid po noong reason, dahil tama ‘yun, majority of the barangay officials are involved in illegal drugs, nagagamit ito,” Alvarez said.
(I have no problem with that at all. I support the President on that because that is a very valid reason. It’s true that majority of the barangay officials are involved in illegal drugs. They are being used for this.) IDL/rga
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