MANILA – Two lawmakers on Friday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte over his proposal to appoint barangay officials in case this year’s polls would be reset again.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the staunchest critics of the president at the lower chamber, noted that existing laws do not provide for appointment of OICs for elective barangay positions.
“Any further postponement of the village polls must not allow the appointment of OICs either by the President or the Secretary of DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government),” Lagman said in a statement.
“The choice of elective officials belongs to the electorate.”
Duterte has said he wants to postpone anew this year’s barangay polls because 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.
Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, who filed the first-ever impeachment complaint against the president, said if Duterte’s claims were true, “then he should have filed administrative cases against them if he could not come up with criminal cases, and then remove them.”
“In that way, those suspected barangay captains will have the opportunity to defend themselves and at the same time those who are considered clean will not be dragged unnecessarily and their names destroyed before the public,” Alejano said.
He said Duterte’s proposal for him to just appoint barangay leaders “undermines the rights of the people to choose their leaders.”
“If he claims that drug lords will finance the elections, what has he done to them in the last 9 months that he is in the office?”
“Does he mean that he can not go after them and that he just will resort to defeating them by postponing the elections and appointing barangay captains?”
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.
Acknowledging that his proposal to replace barangay officials with OICs would be met with strong opposition, Duterte said he would 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.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said a law is needed to become the basis for appointing barangay officials.