CONGRESS has the prerogative to postpone barangay and youth polls but the President will violate the Constitution if he appoints officers-in-charge to fill up the posts, an analyst and an election lawyer said on Monday.
Any move by Congress to amend the Local Government Code to allow the appointment of new barangay (village) officials instead of holding elections will surely be questioned before the Supreme Court (SC), said Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform.
“They can amend the Local Government Code, but not give powers to appoint barangay officials even on a temporary basis,” Casiple said in an interview.
Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal warned that appointing caretakers to barangay posts would contravene Article 10, Section 8 of the 1987 Constitution, which lumps together barangay officials along with other “elective” local officials.
It states: “The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years and no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms.”
Macalintal, in a forum in Manila, said the Constitution would have to be amended as passing a law won’t be enough to appoint caretakers to the barangays.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella however said appointing officers in charge to vacant posts was allowed by law.
“The passage of a new law postponing the barangay elections will make all barangay positions vacant.
Therefore, according to the Administrative Code of the Philippines, it is within the powers of the President to fill up declared vacant positions,” Abella said in a statement.
Punish the 60%, too?
Casiple likewise argued that the only thing Congress could do was to delay the election just like what it did last year when it postponed the scheduled barangay and youth polls to October this year.
“They can delay (the elections) but the incumbent barangay officials will stay on a hold-over capacity until new officials are elected,” he added.
The President wants to postpone the elections and declare all barangay positions vacant for him to appoint new officials.
The President claims 40 percent of barangay chairmen in the country were involved in drugs.
Casiple said there was no question on the President’s sincerity to go after and punish local officials linked to drugs, but the solution may not be acceptable to many.
He pointed out that the remaining 60 percent would receive the same punishment under the President’s plan.
Casiple said the President should instead order the Department of the Interior and Local Government to investigate barangay officials in his list of drug protectors.