MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is confident the House of Representatives can pass the bill that would satisfy the intention of President Rodrigo Duterte to postpone this year's barangay elections and also appoint officials.
Alvarez said on Monday, March 27, that he agrees with the President's plan, but clarified that the Local Government Code of 1991 must be amended first. (READ: FAST FACTS: The Local Government Code turns 25)
"Okay naman iyan… Kailangan lang natin amiyendahan 'yung ano, Local Government Code," said Alvarez in an interview with dzBB.
(I'm okay with that… We just need to amend the Local Government Code.)
Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno previously announced Duterte's plan to appoint barangay officials because the latter also wants to once again postpone the barangay elections set for October 2017.
Last year, both houses of Congress successfully passed the measure postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls – initially scheduled October 2016 – after the President asked them to do so. (READ: Duterte signs law postponing barangay, SK elections)
Duterte had said that holding barangay elections would only ensure the victory of candidates funded by drug lords. According to Sueno, the President wants handpicked appointees in every barangay in the Philippines to rid the country of drugs.
The Local Government Code currently lists barangay executives as among the country's elective officials.
Section 44 states that a permanent vacancy arises when an elective local official "fills a higher vacant office, refuses to assume office, fails to qualify, dies, is removed from office, voluntarily resigns, or is otherwise permanently incapacitated to discharge the functions of his office."
"The successors as defined herein shall serve only the unexpired terms of their predecessors," the Local Government Code also states.
Alvarez said he already asked his staff to draft a bill that would amend the Local Government Code to fulfill both of Duterte's wishes.
The Speaker, a longtime friend and political ally of the President, also said it is possible to have the measure passed into law before the scheduled barangay elections this year with a little push from Duterte.
"Hindi po [kukulangin sa oras] lalo na kapag cinertify as urgent ng ating Pangulo (We will not run out of time especially if the President certifies it as urgent)," said Alvarez.
Lawmakers are currently on a Lenten break and will resume session on May 2. – Rappler.com