Philippines: Statement on Pres. Duterte’s Proposal to Postpone Local Elections

President Duterte’s plan to postpone again the barangay elections slated in October 2017 and having its officials appointed instead smacks of ‘dictatorial tendencies’ and should be opposed, declared Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin.

Congress last year passed a law postponing barangay elections for a year and having incumbent officials as holdovers until new officials are elected.

The opposition solon thinks that there is a sinister plot behind such move than Duterte’s argument about the proliferation of drugs in barangays abetted by its officials.

“If barangay officials are involved in drugs, let the people kick them out through the ballot. Give that power to the people not to one person. That’s the essence of democracy,” said Villarin.

Villarin warned that giving the power to appoint barangay officials to the President would be turning the country into a dictatorship.

Villarin recalled that during the Marcos dictatorship, the barangays became a machinery to monitor and control the people. Marcos also used the barangay assemblies to ratify the 1973 Constitution that provided the legal mantle to his dictatorial rule.

“Imagine the possibilities of appointing at least eight officials in each of the 43,000 barangays all over the country. That’s 344,000 people at the beck and call of the President!,” said Villarin.

With the push to change the 1986 Constitution through a constituent assembly and having it ratified thereafter, the latter would be done easily with appointed barangay officials whose loyalty is with the President.

The opposition solon said that railroading laws in Congress creates a dangerous precedent that would turn the legislature into a rubber stamp.

“It is also against public policy to pass laws and revoking it arbitrarily afterwards on the say so of the President. Congress might as well close shop and hand power to the President,” said Villarin.