MANILA, Philippines – A joint Senate electoral reforms and finance committee report recommended the postponement of barangay elections and allowed President Rodrigo Duterte to appoint officers-in-charge for the barangay on interim basis.
Penned by committee vice chair Senator Richard Gordon and Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Committee Report No. 163 sought to postpone the elections to October 22, 2018 or the fourth Monday of October next year.
“Until their successors shall have been duly elected and qualified, or until the President, through the Executive Secretary, shall appoint officers-in-charge for the barangay, all incumbent barangay officials shall remain in office, unless sooner removed or suspended for cause,” said in the report filed on Monday, September 11.
It also stated that the inclusion of incumbent barangay officials in the President’s supposed drug list was a “sufficient” cause to replace them and appoint OICs in their areas.
“In addition to the other causes under existing laws, inclusion of the name of an incumbent barangay official in the duly confirmed and validated Drug List provided to and in possession of the President shall constitute sufficient cause for the appointment of officers-in-charge for the barangay,” the draft report said.
The entire minority bloc, which has strongly opposed the move, did not sign the report. Detained Senator Leila de Lima was the chair of the panel but Gordon, as vice, assumed the role.
Aside from Gordon and Sotto, the report was also signed by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate finance committee chair Loren Legarda, Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Nancy Binay, without any intention to interpellate.
Senators Cynthia Villar, Panfilo Lacson, Juan Edgardo Angara, Joel Villanueva, and Joseph Victor Ejercito signed the report but said they would interpellate or introduce amendments.
The Senate version is different from the House version, which sought to hold the polls on the 2nd Monday of May 2018 and recommended the hold-over of incumbent officials until the elections are held.
Duterte earlier said 40% of barangay chiefs are involved in illegal drugs. Critics, however, have pointed out that the administration should just file cases against barangay officials with supposed drug links, instead of postponing elections again.
Some senators, especially the minority bloc, have opposed the appointment of OICs, saying it is a constitutional violation. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org