Unscrupulous individuals or groups are roaming and promising appointment-for-a-fee to those who want to be a barangay (village) chairman, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ismael Sueno warned on Sunday.
Sueno said the DILG does not tolerate ‘shadowy schemes” and village officials who are not facing any pending case or complaint before the Ombudsman, Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Council) or Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council) or any other legal body should not worry about losing their post.
He cited reports that groups of people are extorting money in exchange for appointment as officer-in-charge of a specific village.
“We will not appoint OIC [Officer-in-Charge] barangay officials. And as I have said before, unless there is a pending case against a village chairman from a specific place, he has nothing to worry about. But unless and until that is the scenario, the incumbent chairman, prior to the cancelation of barangay elections last month, will continue serving his or her post in a hold-over capacity,” Sueno said.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 10923 postponing the October 2016 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council) elections to the fourth Monday of October 2017.
Sueno denied allegations that the DILG is extorting money from illegal gambling operators in exchange for protection from police actions like raids.
“As a matter of fact, PNP [Philippine National Police] chief Ronald dela Rosa himself had come out openly to pledge that illegal gambling is the next PNP target. In effect, the gambling operators’ days are numbered and they should start looking for legal sources of income as early as now,” he said.
Sueno pointed out that then-candidate Duterte promise to eradicate illegal activities.
The Interior chief said there is no way the DILG or any department for that matter will tolerate the collection of money in exchange for favors.
He also dismissed insinuations that the DILG is “collecting” money for project contracts, such as purchase of firefighting equipment as well as construction of municipal buildings.
“We are not selling ‘appointments’ of any official in the local government level, whether for a barangay chairman post or Sangguniang Barangay [Village Council] membership. There is no way that the DILG will collect fees in exchange for any projects,” Sueno said.
The DILG chief added that individuals or groups using the DILG to extort money from local officials or individuals can expect the full force of the law.
“I have given our intelligence operatives the go-signal to round up these extortionists. We know their location but we still need the support of the public to stand as witnesses against these people,” Sueno said.