MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III said on Thursday, March 23, that he favors the proposal to allow President Rodrigo Duterte to appoint village chairmen if this year’s barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections are postponed.
Pimentel made the statement when asked if he favored Duterte’s proposal that the President be given appointive powers over barangay officials if the polls set on October 23, 2017, are postponed. (READ: Duterte wants to appoint barangay OICs if polls reset)
“If we will have to postpone, then this will now be the second year extension of the incumbent barangay official. I think it’s better to deem their term as expired. The law abhors a vacuum. The appointive power is by default placed in the President. He should be able to appoint,” he said.
Pimentel added that this would require a new law. He noted that under the Constitution, barangay officials are the only local officials whose terms of office are determined by law. All other local officials have a fixed term of 3 years under the 1987 Charter.
“There should be a legal basis. I would have to discuss that with my fellow senators and I hope Speaker [Pantaleon Alvarez] would discuss it with his fellow congressmen,” he said.
'Let the people choose'
At least two senators are opposed to the move.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, Liberal Party president, urged the President to reconsider his proposal which the senator likened to steps taken during the Marcos regime.
"To further postpone barangay elections and opt to instead appoint the barangay officials means to impinge on the people's right to vote and choose their leaders. It is worrisome that the President should even contemplate such a rash decision that encroaches dangerously into authoritarian ideologies reminiscent of those harbored and exemplified by the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos," he said.
"We urge him to rethink this particular move. Let the people choose who they wish to serve them," Pangilinan added in a statement.
Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV said in an interview with reporters he is against another postponement of the barangay and SK polls.
“Right now without any deliberation and without any bill filed here in the Senate, I would want the elections to push through. Especially the SK,” he said.
Aquino said it would be better if people are allowed to choose their barangay officials. He also said past laws postponing the barangay elections usually provide for incumbent officials to continue in a hold-over capacity until new leaders are elected.
In seeking the postponement of barangay polls and the power to appoint village officials, Duterte cited the influence wielded by drug syndicates on local officials. He has proposed a mechanism to guide the selection of his appointees to barangay posts, if allowed by law. (READ: Duterte to 'compromise' with Church, sectors on barangay OICs)
The barangay and SK elections were supposed to be held on October 31, 2016, but was moved to October 23, 2017. – Rappler.com