PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he was willing to enter into a compromise with religious groups to fill more than 42,000 posts should he proceed with his plan to end the term of all barangay or village officials and replace them with his appointees.
“I’m going to a compromise with the Church and everybody. They can nominate three citizens from… If the PDEA and the police and the military [can prove] that they have no connections with the rebels, that’s one,” Duterte told reporters after arriving from a four-day visit to Myanmar and Thailand.
“Second is that they are not into drugs, and third is that they are not really the leaders of politicians. If you can have that at least, I would be happy to just coming from the Roman Catholic from the Islam group, the Jehovah Witnesses.”
Duterte made his statement even as Liberal Party president Francis Pangilinan warned against encroaching dangerously on authoritarian ideologies reminiscent of those harbored and exemplified by the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
“To further postpone barangay elections and opt to instead appoint the barangay officials means to impinge on the people’s right to vote and choose their leaders,” Pangilinan said.
“It is worrisome that the President should even contemplate such a rash decision.”
Duterte said the constitutionally-mandated separation between Church and State will not be violated.
“It’s not actually interference in the preference of the character that should be there. Election eh,” Duterte said.
“It’s not that the Church is interfering, and the Lions or all, just list whoever is accredited, they can nominate. So we can do away with shady character.”
Duterte is mulling over the proposal to replace barangay officials with his own appointees.
“We are looking for a way to appoint na lang the barangay captains but the mechanism of how to go about it, select them… I can, but you know it’s always the President who has the power to appoint,” he said.
“[But] you know, there’s a problem. There is no legal basis for being there. Walang hold over sa barangay. They are just there, I don’t know de facto, whatever”
Duterte warned that money from the narcotics trade might proliferate again should the barangay elections push through this year.
“The local elections it’s just around the corner. If [narco-money] is there, and they can influence the electorate, magkakaroon ng utang loob itong mga officials, delikado—because then you’ll have completed the turn of this country into a narco-politics state.” “If you do the elections now, those who will win are those in my list. Forty percent of the total barangay captains are into drugs, that’s my problem.”