Press Release
September 20, 2017

Senator opposes barangay and SK elections postponement and appointment

Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday opposed a proposed Senate bill providing for the postponement of barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections. She also expressed her opposition to the plan to grant President Rodrigo Duterte power to appoint barangay officials, and the inclusion of the names of the barangay officials in the drug list as sufficient basis for the appointment of officers in charge (OICs).

"This is putting too much power in the hands of the President. Postponing yet again and without sufficient basis the people's democratic process of choosing our barangay leaders and substituting it with the executive power to appoint barangay officials is tantamount to making President Duterte king," Hontiveros said.

"In such a scenario, the barangay system, which we take pride in as a form of direct democracy, becomes an enclave of an authoritarian leader, and its officials, his loyal subjects accountable only to him," Hontiveros added.

Senators Richard Gordon and Vicente "Tito" Sotto filed Senate Bill No. 1584 calling for the postponement of barangay election to the fourth Monday of October 2018. The billed said that the armed conflict in Marawi City, the extension of the proclamation of Martial Law in Mindanao, and the prevalence of illegal drugs merited the postponement of the local polls.

The bill is also pushing for certain controversial provisions such as granting the President the power, through the Executive Secretary to appoint barangay officials; and inclusion of the names of incumbent barangay officials in the President's drug list as sufficient cause for the appointment of barangay officers-in-charge.

Hontiveros argued that there is no need to grant the President appointing authority in case of vacancy in the barangay. She explained that the Local Government Code provides for succession in case of vacancy, and provides for grounds for suspension and removal of erring barangay officials and available mechanisms/remedies to ensure due process.

The Senator also said that there is no need for the President to have additional disciplinary power over incumbent barangay officials included in the confirmed and validated drug list.

"If there is substantial evidence against certain barangay officials, proper charges can be filed based on Republic Act No. 9165 and the proper court can cause the suspension/removal of the said official. And if found guilty of violating the said law, the barangay officials can be permanently disqualified by the court from holding public office," Hontiveros said.

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