MANILA – A senator believes President Rodrigo Duterte's proposal to postpone the barangay elections and just appoint new ones is worrisome and impinges on the people's right to choose their leaders.
In a statement, Liberal Party president and Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the voting public should be allowed to choose their village leaders.
"These officials know the heart of their towns more than any public servant of the country simply through sheer proximity and familiarity, and this affords them a kind of connection other leaders could never forge with their constituents," he said.
He added: "It is worrisome that the President should even contemplate such a rash decision that encroaches dangerously into authoritarian ideologies reminiscent of those harbored and exemplified by the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos."
Duterte has said he wants to postpone anew this year’s barangay polls. He said only barangay officials with connections to the illegal drug trade will win.
“Kapag ginawa mo ang election ngayon, ito ang nanalo, ‘yung nasa listahan. Forty percent of the total barangay captains are into drugs, that’s my problem,” he said.
The President last year signed a law postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls to October this year. This meant that barangay officials retained their posts on a holdover capacity.
This time, however, Duterte wants all barangay positions declared vacant if the polls would be reset again.
“We are looking for a way to appoint na lang the barangay captains but the mechanism of how to go about it, select them… Ako I can, but you know it’s always the President who has the power to appoint,” Duterte said.
Acknowledging that his proposal would be met with strong opposition, Duterte said he would like to seek a compromise with the Church and other sectors.
“But I’m going to a compromise with the Church and everybody. They can nominate three citizens,” he said.
Duterte said one of his qualifications for a barangay appointee is a clearance from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Authority (PDEA).
“Pagka magsabi ang PDEA pati ang pulis and the military that they have no connections with the rebels, that’s one. Second is that they are not into drugs, and third is that they are not really the leaders of politicians,” he said.
“If you can have that, I would be happy to just coming from the Roman Catholic, from the Islam group, the Jehovah Witnesses. It’s not actually interference in the preference of the character that should be there. Election eh.”