De Lima seeks Senate probe on barangay election postponement

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Sen. Leila M. de Lima has sought a Senate inquiry into the Duterte administration’s proposal to postpone anew the elections of barangay officials and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) scheduled on October this year and replace village officials with its appointees.

De Lima, who chairs the Senate committee on electoral reforms and people’s participation, filed Proposed Senate Resolution 339 to inquire into the administration-espoused measure resetting anew the barangay and SK elections.

“Postponing the barangay elections and appointing barangay officials would undermine our democracy by depriving our people of the right to elect their leaders,” she said in a resolution she filed while in detention.

Last year, the President signed into law Republic Act No. 10923 deferring the holding of the barangay and SK elections from Oct. 31, 2016 to Oct. 23, 2017 in an attempt to keep his administration’s all-out war on drugs.

According to the President, the holding of barangay elections as scheduled in October 2016 would only ensure the electoral victory of barangay candidates who were allegedly funded by drug lords.

De Lima, a known election lawyer before she entered public service, took issue on the President’s accusation that 40% of barangay officials are purportedly involved in illegal drugs trade and might use money from the drug lords to influence the result of the elections.

“The President’s pronouncement that only those who are in the drug list would win the barangay elections appears to have no factual basis and apparently only seeks to discredit duly-elected officials,” she said.

It may be recalled that upon his arrival from his official visits in Myanmar and Thailand last month, President Duterte disclosed to the public that 40 percent of all the barangay captains in the country are allegedly involved in drugs.

“There is a need to investigate the veracity of the allegation of the President,” she added.

The Senator from Bicol also pointed out that her committee would like to find out how the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is exactly proceeding with its preparation for the smooth conduct of the barangay and SK elections this year.

“There is a need to determine the level of preparedness of the Comelec to conduct barangay elections this year,” she said.

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