Senator Leila M. de Lima today said she is opposed to a move in Congress to postpone anew the barangay elections and allow President Duterte to exercise his executive power of appointing a new set of barangay officials nationwide.
De Lima, who chairs the Senate committee on electoral reforms and people's participation, maintained that the mandate of barangay officials comes from the people through the electoral process, and not through political appointments. "Let me remind my colleagues in Congress that the Constitution defines barangay officials as elected officials with terms of office defined by law. The only thing that can be changed is how long barangay officials are allowed to serve," she said.
"Barangay officials must be selected through the electoral process, and not through political endorsements," she added, citing Article 10, Section 8 of the 1987 Constitution that governs the election of barangay officials.
Upon President Duterte's prodding, Congress postponed the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections last year to October this year due to allegations that drug money would be used to fund the village polls.
Earlier this year, the President pushed for the appointment of officers-in-charge at the barangay level in lieu of holding elections this year, after making the same allegations that drug money will be used to fund village candidates.
De Lima pointed out that the impending political appointment of officers-in-charge at the grassroots level is a desperate tactic of the administration to strengthen its political machinery which is self-destructing due to its murderous war on drugs.
"The so-called appointment of officials for barangays is a desperate move of the administration to solidify its control of the branches of the government. It's their way of gaining full affirmation for its bloody campaign against illegal drugs," she said.
"Instead of empowering the people at the grassroots by giving them the choice to elect their leaders, a system of patronage or palakasan will prevail. This kind of culture is what destroys our democratic institutions," she added.
The Senator from Bicol also urged her colleagues to reconsider their positions on the matter in view of the existing loopholes and weaknesses in existing policies of the government.
It can be recalled that De Lima filed Senate Resolution No. 339, calling for an inquiry into the Duterte's plan to postpone the 2017 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections and appoint barangay officials or officers-in- charge upon expiration of the incumbent terms.
Source: Senate of the Philippines