PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has warned that there would be more killings if barangay (village) officials involved in illegal drugs trade in the country were elected.
In his speech during the opening ceremony of the National Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) Challenge in Davao City on Thursday night, Duterte said while he would keep his distance from the upcoming barangay elections, he would not allow anyone contributing to the drug menace to be elected as government officials.
“So I say, ‘Mag-eleksyon, okay. Inyong decision ‘yan (Let’s have an election, okay. That’s your decision).’ But remember that the drug situation is still very, very alive and vicious. So kung manalo ‘yang mga barangay captains, na-back up ng drug money, eh panibagong away ‘yan. Panibagong patayan na naman ‘yan (So if those backed up by drug money will win as barangay captains, it will be another war. It will be another killing),” Duterte said.
“Hindi ko sinasabi na walang election o may election (I’m not saying there will be no elections or there will be elections). But I will never, never until the end of my term, to the last day, allow a government official to use his power or position as a platform to engage in criminality, especially drugs. Hindi ko talaga tatanggapin ‘yan (I will really not accept that). Let us be sure on that,” he added.
Duterte’s statement came following Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon’s recent claim that the President’s allies at the House of Representatives were preparing to postpone anew the village and youth council elections.
Drilon on Sunday alleged that congressmen wanted to move the twin elections from May 2018 to October of the same year, in an attempt to “railroad the proposed Charter Change” by pushing for a provision that will allow extended terms under the proposed federal state.
But Duterte denied that he had a hand in the supposed move to delay the local elections, and stressed that it would be up to members of Congress, if they want it to push through or be suspended again.
He said he did not want to intervene in the resumption of elections for new barangay officials and youth councils so as not to be misinterpreted by the “bright” people that he was really eyeing a dictatorship.
“You know very well that we are being swallowed by drugs, now there is an upcoming election for local barangay officials. I told them, I communicated. I told Bong (Secretary Christoper Go), ‘Tell them, Congress, it’s their choice. Hardly is it ours.’ Because if we stop it, many (would say), ‘Well, of course, (it’s because they want) dictatorial (regime or they) do not want elections or free will,” he said.
“Alam mo na, maraming bright dito sa Pilipinas eh. So many brights na nagpa-iwan. Akala nila tayo na lang ang bugok (You know, there are many brights here in the Philippines, so many brights that they think we are stupid),” the President added.
The President sought to suspend the barangay elections this October as he wanted to wipe out the incumbent barangay officials linked to narcotics sale.
Duterte had said he was considering declaring all barangay positions vacant and appoint “honest” barangay officials, following reports that 40 percent were involved in illegal drugs.
The barangay elections, originally scheduled for October 31, 2016, was first moved to October 23, 2017, and then to May 14, 2018.
As a result, the three-year terms of barangay officials who were elected in 2013 were effectively extended as they were retained in a holdover capacity.
On Monday, Palace spokesman Harry Roque assured the public that the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections would be held as scheduled in May.
Roque said Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd himself said in an event on Friday that the Senate had no plans of postponing the barangay elections for a third time.
“While there is a pending bill in the House filed by Congressman Johnny Pimentel (of Surigao del Sur) to suspend anew the barangay elections, Senator Pimentel declared before the audience of 4,000 that there was no support in the Senate for another postponement of the barangay elections. That means, as far as Congress is concerned, barangay elections will push through,” Roque said.