‘Drug personalities can’t be barred from running in polls’
Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) - April 25, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Drug dependents or anyone with possible drug links can’t just be barred from running in the coming October barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista said existing election laws do not have provisions disqualifying drug dependents and those with drug links from any electoral exercise.

“A law may need to be passed to exclude drug pushers or addicts from running for public office,” Bautista said in reaction to the proposal of the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) to screen candidates and disqualify those involved in the drug trade.

Bautista pointed out the Comelec currently does not have the expertise and resources to conduct screening of candidates as suggested by Namfrel.

But the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) said the Comelec should also consider Namfrel’s proposal.

“It can be given a try unless restrained by the Supreme Court. This approach, to be shepherded by an inter-governmental agency, is creative and worth considering,” PPCRV chairman Rene Sarmiento said.

Sarmiento, however, admitted the SC might declare such screening procedure illegal.

“It can be legally assailed since it can be construed as a new qualification not found in the Local Government Code, unless a new law on this matter is passed, for barangay officials running for elective posts,” he pointed out.

Instead of postponing the October barangay and SK elections, Namfrel urged the Comelec to just work closely with the Philippine National Police, Department of Justice and Department of the Interior and Local Government in screening candidates to weed them out of drug offenders.

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