MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he would not appoint officers-in-charge (OICs) in barangays should the village elections this year be postponed.
With about a month to go before the scheduled Oct. 23 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls, Congress has yet to pass a bill for a postponement despite pending proposals.
If signed into law, it would be the second postponement of the barangay elections since the President took office. The village polls supposed to be held in October last year was also put off.
In March, then Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno said the President was seeking to replace officials in drug-infested villages with his appointees.
But the President seemed no longer keen about such a proposal a month before the scheduled polls.
“Itong Congress, let me state now. I’m not interested to appoint barangay captains,” Duterte said in a speech at the oath-taking of newly elected Philippine National Police Academy Alumni Association, Inc. board of trustees in Malacañang.
“Disabuse your mind about Duterte holding so much power.”
The House of Representatives earlier approved on third and final reading a bill postponing the barangay elections to May 2018. Its counterpart measure in the Senate is still undergoing deliberations.
A Senate committee report on the postponement of the barangay and SK elections to October 2018, if adopted, would allow Duterte to appoint OICs.
Section 3 of the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People's Participation Report No. 163 would give Duterte the power to replace incumbent barangay officials on the "duly confirmed and validated drug list provided to and in possession of the President."
"Inclusion of the name of an incumbent barangay official in the duly confirmed and validated drug list provided to and in possession of the President shall constitute sufficient cause for the appointment of officers-in-charge for the barangay," the section read.
Several lawmakers have questioned the proposal.
Duterte has repeatedly said about 40 percent of barangay officials in the country are involved in the illegal drug trade.
He has supported proposals to postpone the barangay polls, saying incumbent village officials with drug links will only win because of their influence and money.