The Duterte administration’s plan to replace barangay (village) officials with appointed officers-in-charge (OIC) is illegal, an opposition lawmaker said on Tuesday.
Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay cited Section 8, Article 10 of the Constitution that 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. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected.”
“The Duterte administration’s insistence on replacing incumbent elected barangay officials with appointive OIC is a blatant violation of the Constitution and aberration which supplants the popular electoral will. The Constitution classifies barangay officials as “local elective officials” and, consequently, they are installed in office by electoral mandate, not by appointment,” Lagman said in a statement.
“Due to the classification by the Constitution of barangay officials as “elective local officials,” the various laws pertinent to the election of barangay officials provide for a hold-over,” he added.
Lagman invoked Republic Act (RA) 10923 approved on October 2016 that postponed the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council) elections to the fourth Monday of October 2017 that provide for hold-over, reading, “Until their successors shall have been duly elected and qualified, all incumbent barangay officials shall remain in office, unless sooner removed or suspended for cause.”
Similarly, other statutes on village elections like RA 6653 (May 1988), RA 9164 (March 2002) and RA 9340 (September 2005) also invariably provide for hold-over.
The Duterte administration wants the October 2017 village elections postponed so as to rid the barangay ranks of officials who are involved in the illegal drug trade.
“Barangay officials suspected of complicity in drug-related offenses or any criminal act must be prosecuted and removed for cause pursuant to law, not substituted with OIC,” Lagman said.
“Hold-over provisions recognize that elected barangay officials shall remain in office until the election, not appointment, of their successors,” he added.