Duterte wants to appoint barangay OICs if polls reset

Marchel P. Espina
Duterte wants to appoint barangay OICs if polls reset
Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno says President Rodrigo Duterte wants handpicked appointees in every barangay in the Philippines to rid the country of drugs

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is pushing for a measure that not only seeks to postpone the barangay elections in October, but would also replace all village officials with his appointees, Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno said on Wednesday, March 22.

Sueno made the statement on the sidelines of the 15th Meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Senior Officials Responsible for Information at the SMX Convention Center here, while responding to questions about the President’s recent declared support for another postponement of the barangay polls.

Asked whether Duterte’s proposed measure would designate incumbent barangay officials on holdover capacity until the next polls, he said: “No more, there will be no more carryover, holdover capacity. All their terms will be terminated and then all will be declared vacant; all their positions. ‘Yun ang thinking ng Presidente (That’s the thinking of the President).”

“The President will appoint [the barangay officials],” he added.

This will be done in coordination with local officials and various sectors and groups, said Sueno.

This mirrors the proposal of the House minority bloc last year, when Congress tackled the proposal to postpone the 2016 barangay elections. The bloc pushed for the appointment of barangay officers-in-charge (OICs), instead of extending the term of incumbent officials for a year.

Sueno supported that proposal back then.

Asked if a member of the opposition can be appointed to a barangay position to ensure checks and balances, Sueno said, “Pulitika ‘to. Eh paano ‘yun kung lagyan ng opposition (This is politics. How’s that if you appoint someone from the opposition)?”

Responding to questions, Sueno said lawmakers may choose to again extend the terms of barangay officials until the new leaders are elected.

On October 18, 2016, Duterte signed into law Republic Act No. 10923 postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections set on October 31, 2016, to the 4th Monday of October 2017, or October 23, 2017.

Sueno stressed that if the village polls will proceed in October, candidates may win because of drug money, which would hamper the Duterte administration’s vaunted war on drugs.

“The President only wants to eliminate drugs and corruption,” he said.

Addressing the League of Municipalities of the Philippines at the Manila Hotel on March 14, Duterte said having barangay elections as scheduled, in October, would only ensure the victory of candidates funded by drug lords – his same argument in pushing for the postponement of last year’s polls.

“Sabi ko kay Senate President pati kay Speaker, sabihin mo sa mga congressman, kapag ngayon tayo nag-eleksyon sa barangay captain, patay (I told Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III as well as Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, tell the congressmen that if we hold barangay elections, we’ll be doomed)!” he told local officials then.

Among the critics of the proposed postponement of this year’s barangay elections is Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, who said that in a democracy, people should be allowed to choose their own leaders. – Rappler.com

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