By Juan Escandor Jr.
NAGA CITY---In a joint and collective motion, the city council of this city has expressed opposition Tuesday (April 4) against the public pronouncement of President Duterte to appoint barangay officials on the pretext that 40 percent of them all over the country are allegedly involved in illegal drugs.
Resolution No. 2017 of the Naga City Council sees the idea of appointing village chiefs by Mr. Duterte to run “counter to the essence of democracy and hearing the voice of the Filipino people, from whom sovereignty resides and all government authority emanates.”
Vice Mayor Nelson Legacion said the decision to officially oppose the idea of village chiefs being appointed was the result of the clamor from barangay officials who wanted the elections rather than appointment of officials of the villages.
The resolution also questions President Duterte’s claim of “the supposed widespread narco-politics in the country” which it said “remains unsubstantiated and unfounded to the present.”
Duterte mulled the idea of appointing barangay chiefs during his visit in Thailand last month.
“We are looking for a way to appoint na lang barangay captains, but the mechanism of how to go about it, I’m going to a compromise with the church and everybody,” he said in a speech after arriving from his official visit to Myanmar and Thailand.
But the chair of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reform said Mr. Duterte cannot scrap the barangay elections scheduled for October and just appoint roughly 42,000 village chiefs, according to the report of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Rep. Sherwin Tugna of the Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption said the Local Government Code of 1991, or Republic Act No. 7160, mandates that elections be held for the chairs and councilors of the barangays.
While Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez agreed with Tugna’s view, he said it can be done by amending the Local Government Code.
The Duterte administration is seeking to postpone barangay elections, claiming that 40 percent of the officials in the country’s 42,028 barangays are either corrupt or into illegal drugs.
Instead of holding elections, the Duterte administration intends to appoint around 340,000 barangay chairs and council members.
Rep. Edcel Lagman, in a statement said that “(a)ll barangay elected officials shall serve until their successors are duly elected and qualified, unless they have been dismissed for cause.”
Tugna said lawmakers would no longer be limited to the legal implications of postponing the elections, which have been deferred from October 2016 schedule through RA 10923, when Congress resumes its session on May 2.
RA 10923 reset the elections to October this year and extended the tenure of barangay officials in a holdover capacity.
“If the raison d’etre behind the proposal is to get rid of those barangay leaders involved in drugs, the proper course of action is not to punish the people and disenfranchise them with their rights to suffrage, but to charge those concerned officials before the courts and let due process administratively, criminally punish them,” the Naga City council resolution states.
The city council furnishes the Liga ng mga Barangay, Pres. Duterte, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Camarines Sur Third District Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr., and Vice President Ma. Leonor G. Robredo for appropriate action.