IFUGAO Rep. Teodoro Baguilat on Saturday vowed to block moves in the House of Representatives to pass a bill seeking the postponement of the October barangay (village) and youth elections to 2020 to allow President Rodrigo Duterte to appoint caretakers.
The proposed measure, House Bill 5359, was filed by Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert “Ace” Barbers.
“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,” Baguilat said in a statement.
“If this administration is so convinced that these barangay officials are into drugs,” he said, filing the appropriate cases was “more efficient” compared with vetting over 200,000 people who will fill the village posts.
“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,” he said.
“Doing so will deprive the people of their fundamental right to choose their leaders,” he added.
On Saturday, Barbers told reporters: “These are extraordinary times that need extraordinary measures. This is what I always say, that perhaps we have to postpone [the barangay polls]so that drug lords or criminal syndicates will not be able to hijack this election.”
If the bill passes, the vetting of those who will be appointed as officers-in-charge (OICs) will be up to the Executive Department, he said.
“Let us not fear. This is temporary, this is OIC status…And the ones who will be appointed are…those who will undergo a thorough screening process.”