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Duterte rejects power to appoint barangay officials

President  Duterte earlier agreed to the postponement of the SK and barangay elections, saying it would prevent narco-money from being used for the campaign and election of barangay officials linked to illegal drugs. AP/Bullit Marquez, file

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he does not want to wield the power to appoint barangay officials as his allies in Congress move to postpone anew the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.

“Ngayon, ‘pag sinabi ninyo i-appoint na lang, sinabi ko kanina sa House of Representatives through the Speaker and — 'Wag mong ibigay sa akin mag-appoint-appoint. Ayaw ko, ibigay ninyo sa iba,’" Duterte told news anchor Erwin Tulfo in a televised interview Tuesday night.

With a vote of 213-10, the House of Representatives early this month approved on third and final reading House Bill 6308, which seeks to postpone again the scheduled October 23 barangay and SK elections to May 2018.

Under the consolidated bill passed by the House, incumbent barangay and SK officials will continue to function in a holdover capacity.

The Senate, meanwhile, recommended the postponement of village polls to October next year.

Duterte earlier said he wanted to appoint officers-in-charge in the barangays who would help him in his war against drugs, but this was opposed by some members of Congress.

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He has pushed for the suspension of barangay polls as he alleged that 40 percent of barangay officials are involved in the operation of illegal drugs.

“Ngayon ang sabi ko, kung ayaw ninyong maniwala, okay sa akin. Walang problema, eleksyon tayo. Pero kung ma-reelect ‘yang nasa droga, hindi ko na problema ‘yan,” Duterte said in the same interview with Tulfo.

Last year, the lower house also approved a similar bill postponing the 2016 barangay and SK elections. 

The last village elections were held in 2013.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections recently decided to postpone the village and youth council elections in Mindanao, saying that holding a free, orderly and peaceful election in the region is currently not possible. Mindanao is currently under martial law.

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