DAVAO CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte is favoring the postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) for fear that drug money will be used as campaign kitty.
“I am afraid the drug money will seep into the electoral process,” Mr. Duterte said in his message before Army officials and guests during the 10th Eastern Mindanao Command Anniversary program at the Naval Station in Panacan on Friday evening.
It was the first time the President revealed his reason for supporting calls to move the elections.
He feared that if the winning barangay officials who are funded by drug money are too many, he might not be able to control them unless Martial Law is declared. That, he said, he would never do.
The President said he would never allow drug money to be used for candidates to win the elections.
He said he would rather use the budget for elections to establish rehab centers.
Last Tuesday, President Duterte said he was for the postponement of the village and SK polls because he would need huge budget.
If that is the case, he said he would rather use the money for other social government programs particularly 4Ps undertaken by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Some people including congressmen have been calling for the postponement of the elections.
“It is very likely that it will be postponed given that there’s overwhelming support,” Senator Juan Edgardo Angara was quoted as saying after the Senate hearing on the proposal to defer both elections.
According to Angara, most measures filed in the Senate seek a two-year postponement. The popular choice among resource persons was a one-year postponement.
“Although bills say two years, one year seems to be the popular choice, whether Comelec (Commission on Elections) or DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) officials,” he was quoted saying.
According to reports, there is a prevailing sentiment to hold barangay elections next year, either in May or October.
DILG Secretary Ismael Sueno was of the opinion that if the elections push through, local governments will lose another 90 days for the implementation of projects.
Aiza Seguerra, chairperson of the National Youth Commission, said she wants to pursue with the elections but added that she understands the stand of the President.
Angara also welcomed the insights gained from the hearing, noting he was glad that most resource persons, particularly the DILG, have also expressed favor for postponement.
Sueno estimated that PHP6 billion will be needed for the elections that can be used for other local government projects and programs, such as the construction of more rehabilitation centers given that over 6,000 drug pushers and users have surrendered.
According to Sueno, government jails can no longer accommodate them and with PHP6 billion, government can put up rehabilitation centers in all the regions in the country. Lilian Mellejor/PNA/northboundasia.com