Some 1 million candidates are vying for more than 600,000 positions in the forthcoming barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on May 14.
The high turnout candidates who filed their certificate of candidacies (COCs), according to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Officer in Charge Eduardo M. Año is “an indication that more and more Filipinos want to significantly contribute to President Duterte’s vision of change for the country.”
Año, in a news statement issued on Wednesday, said the latest on the number election hopefuls “is a good indication that Filipinos are now more proactive and would like to take the lead in initiating change in their respective communities.”
The filing of COCs started on April 14 which officially ended on April 20.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) extended the COC filing until April 21 to give chance to those who failed to submit their COCs due to very huge number of candidates.
At the same time, the DILG chief reiterated his marching order to the Philippine National Police (PNP) to tighten the security of more than 42,000 barangays in the country in preparation for the polls.
Año specifically relayed to PNP chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde to ensure that “the checkpoints and other security measures are [all placed specially on the barangays that have been categorized by the PNP itself as] election hot spots.”
“As the elections are drawing near, we expect that the political tension in the barangays will increase, especially among the candidates and their supporters. I, therefore, call on the PNP to conduct regular checkpoints and maintain police visibility as part of the measures to prevent election violence during the election period,” Año said.
The Comelec said there are exactly 1,070,991 candidates in the polls, excluding the barangays and SKs in Marawi City which is still undergoing massive rehabilitation.
Out of 1 million, 684,785 filed for barangay chairman posts and kagawad, while 386,206 for SK positions.
The voters will elect one punong barangay and seven sangguniang barangay members, while youth voters will elect one SK chairman and seven SK members.
Those aged between 18 to 30 years old will elect both barangay and SK officials.
At the House of Representatives, lawmakers on Wednesday described as “unconstitutional” the plan of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to release the narco list involving 211 barangay officials.
Party-list Rep. Gary C. Alejano of Magdalo and Tom S. Villarin of Akbayan reminded PDEA officials that the rule of law and due process must always prevail in these cases, even as Duterte has already ordered the disclosure of the names of barangay officials in the agency’s drug watchlist
“The PDEA should be discerning enough what an unlawful and lawful order is. It’s an infraction of due process and clear violation of the Constitution,” Villarin said.“It’s another one of those bullying tactics and to inject into the electoral agenda his failed war on drugs,” he added.
For his part, Alejano said “If there is substantial evidence linking these officials to illegal drugs, then by all means, they should be held criminally liable.”
“I emphasize ‘substantial evidence’ as a precursor because there were instances wherein the President released the narco list, only to follow it up by retracting several names included in it. These blunders certainly cast doubt on the accuracy of the said drug list. I hope that the release of this document achieves something outside of public shaming,” he added.
However, Rep. Frederick W. Siao of the Lone District of Iligan City backed the PDEA’s plan, saying “now is not the time for the PDEA to lose credibility over this matter.”
“What is the PDEA waiting for? Reveal the list as it is now and the reasons those barangay officials are on that list. Inform the public and give the officials allegedly involved the fair chance to respond to the allegations,” he said.
PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino earlier said “out of the 24,424 drug-affected barangays, 15,290 were classified as “slightly affected,” 9,089 were “moderately affected,” while 45 barangays were “seriously affected.”
“The shortest list is that of the 45 barangays ‘seriously affected.’ That is one list the people can easily understand because it is not too long. Where is that list? Reveal that,” Siao added.
With Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz