MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he would let Congress decide whether or not to postpone the barangay elections set this May but warned that some village officials with links to the illegal drug trade could end up winning.
Duterte said he refused to make a recommendation to avoid being accused of being dictatorial.
“Sabihin mo sa kanila, [sa] Congress, it’s their choice,” Duterte said in a speech in Davao City.
Duterte, however, noted that “the drug situation is still very alive and vicious” and warned that unscrupulous village officials might end up winning the polls.
“Kung manalo ang mga barangay captains na backed up ng drug money, eh panibagong away ‘yan, panibagong patayan ‘yan,” Duterte said.
“Hindi ko sinasabi na wala nang eleksyon, but I will never, ever, until the end of my term, allow a government official to use his power or position as a platform to engage in criminality.”
Malacañang earlier said the May 2018 village polls would push through, after Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon claimed that Duterte’s allies in Congress wanted the elections moved to October so that the plebiscite on the proposed charter change could be held along with it.
Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali earlier filed separate bills seeking the postponement of the village polls.
Should Congress approve either of the proposals, it would be the third time for the village elections to be moved. The barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections were originally scheduled on October 2016, which was moved to October 2017. It was again reset to May 2018.
In 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte urged his allies in the legislature to move the polls to a later date, claiming it may be rigged by barangay officials who are involved in the illegal drug trade.
Since he assumed power, several barangay officials have been arrested for drug involvement.