House ally files bill allowing Duterte to appoint barangay execs
An ally of President Rodrigo Duterte in the House of Representatives filed a bill seeking to postpone the barangay elections to 2020 to allow the Chief Executive to appoint all the country’s village officials.
In a statement on Monday, Surigao Del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers filed House Bill 5359 seeking to postpone the 2017 barangay and Sanggunian Kabataan (SK) elections to May 2020, and subsequent elections to May 2023 and three years thereafter.
The bill seeks to amend Republic Act 10923, the latest law passed by Congress in 2016 that postponed the October 2016 barangay elections to the fourth Monday of October 2017.
Barbers’ bill seeks to further postpone the village polls elections to the fourth Monday of May 2020, and every three years thereafter.
The bill also states that all incumbent officials should be deemed terminated upon the passage of the proposed legislation, thus allowing President Duterte to fill up all barangay posts with officers-in-charge.
The bill also mandates the Commission on Elections to promulgate the implementing rules and regulations within 90 days after effectivity of the bill to law.
If there are provisions in the bill deemed unconstitutional, according to the bill, the unaffected portions of the bill should remain in full force and effect.
In his explanatory note, Barbers said he filed the bill in expression of support to the President’s plan to appoint all the country’s barangay officials to weed out officials who are coddlers of drug lords.
“President Rodrigo Duterte said that he wants the October 2017 barangay elections postponed because he does not want those financed by drug lords to win. He further said that if the barangay elections would proceed as planned, the winners might be financed by drug money,” said Barbers, who chairs the House dangerous drugs committee.
“It is therefore paramount to postpone the barangay and Sanggunian Kabataan elections to support the President’s call,” he added.
He said the drug problem is prevalent at the most basic unit of local governance.
“The barangay system is merely giving more benefit to the political patrons of these barangay officials, added to the fact that there is purported influence of drug money in the political exercise,” Barbers said.
“In support of the President’s call to eliminate drugs and corruption among our barangay leaders, the immediate approval of this measure is highly recommended,” Barbers added.
In a radio interview Monday, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Duterte’s staunch ally in Congress, said Congress has to pass a bill amending the Local Government Code to allow the President to appoint barangay officials.
Alvarez vowed that the lower house can pass the bill in time to postpone the upcoming October barangay and SK elections.
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.
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.
Opposition lawmakers in the House of Representatives however warned of the “dictatorial tendencies” in Duterte’s move, especially because historically, the barangays during the Marcos dictatorship served as a “machinery” to cement the strongman’s rule. JE/rga
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