Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III told barangay captains that they must clean their ranks and prove to President Duterte that there is no truth to the report that up to 40% of village leaders are involved in illegal drugs.
Pimentel said this in his keynote speech to the Strategic Consultation and Workshop on Federalism, Barangay Reform, and Role of Barangays in National Security Concerns organized by the Liga ng mga Barangay (LNB).
"If the report is wrong, then maybe there is no need to discuss appointments to replace barangay officials", said Pimentel.
However, he added that the barangay chairmen would have to prove to the President and the anti-drug agencies like PNP and PDEA that there is no truth to the report.
"So that is I think a challenge... to each and every one of you", the Senate President said.
Pimentel explained, "If the barangay is drug-infested, heavily drug-infested, our intelligence community would believe that the barangay leaders are involved in drugs... that is a reasonable conclusion."
Pimentel urged the barangay chiefs to show policymakers that they are making a sincere effort to defeat the drug menace.
According to Pimentel, if this were done, the only question before Congress would be the postponement of barangay elections and there would be no discussion about the appointment of barangay officials.
The President's chief ally in the Senate reminded the crowd that Congress and the President already postponed barangay elections in the previous year in the hopes of removing the influence of drug peddlers in the elections. He then discussed the upcoming barangay elections in October, and the President's proposal to postpone the polls and appoint replacements for the incumbents.
Pimentel, a bar topnotcher, said that the constitutionality of the appointments is still under study and invited the LNB to submit its own position paper on the matter.
The Senate President initially discussed his vision for a Federal Philippines, the proposed Constitution of PDP Laban, and the role barangays will play in the shift to Federalism.
Source: Senate of the Philippines