AN opposition solon vowed to stop administration allies from passing a measure allowing President Rodrigo Duterte to appoint barangay officials.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat, leader of the House Minority Magnificent 7, expressed strong objection to the plan of President Duterte to postpone the barangay elections and just appoint the next village officials.
Earlier, President Duterte said that he was inclined to no longer push through with the elections of barangay officials this year and just appoint his own picks because as much as 40 percent of the barangay officials are tainted by the drug trade.
Baguilat said if the President has proof of his allegation then he should file charges.
“What is the basis for saying that 40 percent of the officials are connected to drugs? It does not make sense. And even assuming that some are, can’t we trust the Filipino people to vote for those who they believe will be the right candidates for them? We are a free people and we must be free to elect our own leaders,” he said.
“If this administration is so convinced that these barangay officials are into drugs, then file the appropriate cases. That is certainly more efficient than vetting over 200,000 people who will fill the barangay posts,” he also said.
Baguilat also said that if President Duterte was so convinced of the prevalence of the drug trade and that he was sure of the connection of these officials to the illicit trade, then it should not be a problem for his government, with all the resources at its disposal, to file the appropriate cases.
The solon also stressed that doing away with a vital political exercise would put the Duterte administration even closer to a dictatorship considering that he already has some control over the two chambers of Congress.
“Barangay officials are supposedly non-political and supposedly non-partisan. With this move, the president wants even the barangay officials to be beholden to him and that will put us even closer to a dictatorship,” Baguilat pointed out.
“Doing so will deprive the people of their fundamental right to choose their leaders,” he added.