MANILA - Allowing President Rodrigo Duterte to handpick replacements for barangay officials in his so-called drug list will violate the rights of sitting officials, a former election commissioner warned Tuesday.
A Senate committee report postponing barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council) elections to October 2018 allows the President to name officers in charge.
The report released Monday night said inclusion in Duterte's "confirmed and validated" drug list was "sufficient cause" to appoint OICs.
"Who vets the list? It's actually a removal of government officials under the guise of being in a drug list," former election commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal told ABS-CBN News.
"The problem with that provision is it denies the elected officials due process and equal protection."
The president earlier called for the postponement of barangay elections, claiming local officials involved in drug trafficking were likely to use their influence to remain in power.
He said "40 percent" of barangay captains nationwide were involved in illegal drugs.
"There is a rule of succession where you cannot just appoint somebody to replace the barangay chairman. You have to follow the law under the Local Government Code," Larrazabal said.
In case of a permanent vacancy, the highest ranking Sangguniang Barangay member replaces the barangay captain, according to the Local Government Code.
Holding the barangay and youth elections in October 2018 would give the Commission on Elections very little time to prepare for the mid-term elections the following May, he said.
The version passed by the House of Representatives on Monday resets the barangay and youth elections to May 2018, a "more suitable alternative," according to the former election official.
"Because it still allows the Comelec to prepare for the 2019 elections. It still allows voters to register from June until October 2018. It still allows the stakeholders to work with Comelec to prepare for the May 2019 elections," he said.