Duterte told: Get druggies, but don't halt barangay polls

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 28 2017 09:18 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte points to a piece of paper containing a list of personalities he alleges are involved with the drug trade, as he delivers a speech on Monday. Ezra Acayan, Reuters

MANILA – Some barangay officials have asked President Rodrigo Duterte to ask law enforcers to file charges against those involved in the illegal drug trade instead of postponing the polls and appointing new officials in their stead.

Duterte has asked Congress to postpone the October 2017 barangay polls, and give him the power to appoint officers-in-charge so that he can weed out erring barangay officials.

Duterte had alleged that about 40 percent of barangay officials nationwide have links to the illegal drug trade.

This is unfair to hard-working officials like himself who were wrongly accused of drug ties, said Barangay Santo Cristo Captain Rizaldy Nepomuceno.

While he figured in Duterte’s list of barangay officials with alleged ties to illegal drugs, his work has been recognized and various projects have won several awards.

"Sana po ma-validate [ang drug list nang] mabuti...Sana po iyong tinatawag na 40 percent, eh di yun po ang i-validate, iyon po ang kasuhan, iyon ang tanggalin, unfair naman doon sa aming gumaganap [sa tungkulin],” Nepomuceno said.

Nepomuceno's call is similar to the call by Liga ng mga Barangay President Edmund Abesamis.

"Iyong 40 percent, hindi ko alam ano basehan. I think isa sa pwedeng gawin, kung merong names, kasuhan na natin…they do not deserve to continue in office, if there is any mechanism na mabilis tatanggalin," he said.

Under the Philippine system of government, barangay officials are the frontliners in the delivery of basic services, since the barangay is the most basic system of government.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman also joined those opposing the president’s plan to appoint barangay officials.

In a statement, Lagman said that neither the 1987 Constitution nor a statute can enable Duterte to appoint barangay officials.

He added that Congress can only provide for the term and periodic elections of barangay officials, and that it cannot authorize the President to appoint those categorized by the Constitution as “elective local officials” who shall be elected by their qualified constituents. 

"Even the various barangay election laws, including RA No. 10923 which postponed the October 2016 barangay elections to the fourth Monday of October 2017, provides for holdover of incumbents. Democratic electoral processes should never be sacrificed to the questionable scheme of the President and his cheerleaders in the House of Representatives," he said.

Speaking to ANC's Beyond Politics, Former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr., considered the father of the local government code, said he does not support proposals to postpone the barangay elections.

Government is better off nabbing those involved in drugs and making sure they never run for public office again, he said.