DILG: Postpone barangay elections, focus on war on drugs

Bea Cupin
DILG: Postpone barangay elections, focus on war on drugs
Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno backs the House minority's proposal to let President Rodrigo Duterte appoint barangay 'officers-in-charge' if the elections are postponed


MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) favors postponing the barangay polls so that government projects won’t be  hampered by election rules, and to allow the police to build on the momentum of their anti-illegal drugs campaign.

Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno bared the DILG’s reasons for backing the proposed postponement of the polls scheduled in October, during the department’s budget briefing at the House of Representatives on Thursday, September 1.

“We are all for the postponement of the barangay polls. First reason, malaki ang gagastusin natin (we’ll be spending a lot) for rehabilitation centers,” Sueno said.

Sueno also explained that 3 months would be “wasted” since many projects would be put on hold because of election rules.

“We can’t lose another 3 months [because of the election ban]. If we hold another election, there are a lot of delayed projects, mahihirapan kami, kawawa naman ‘yung mga tao na makikinabang sa (we’ll have a hard time and it’s unfair to the people who would’ve benefitted from) projects that will be put up this year,” he added.

Lawmakers from both houses of Congress are keen on postponing the barangay elections.

War on drugs

Sueno offered another reason why the elections should be postponed: President Rodrigo Duterte’s ongoing “war on drugs.”

Echoing Duterte, the interior chief said “many” barangay officials are  involved in the illegal drug trade, but he could not give exact figures. (READ: Duterte: Drug money might influence barangay, SK polls)

To make sure these alleged drug-linked officials are stripped of power, Sueno shared the view of the House minority that Duterte himself should appoint “officers-in-charge” in certain barangays.

The Interior Secretary claimed that drug lords might be able to support barangay officials in the coming elections.

“We should give [Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa] another year to get rid of the drug lords,” said Sueno.

The PNP is at the helm of the Duterte’s government’s so-called “war on drugs,” one of his key campaign promises.

From July 1 to August 31, nearly 2,500 people have died in police operations and apparent extrajudicial killings with ties to illegal drugs. The figure also includes 10 police personnel killed during anti-illegal drugs operations.

The campaign has many supporters but is also under attack by human rights groups, Philippine politicians, educational institutions, the Catholic Church, and even the United Nations and the United States, among others. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.