President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday left to Congress the decision on whether to allow another postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections even as he warned about local officials that would use drug money to influence the polls.
Duterte said he had instructed his chief aide, Christopher "Bong" Go, to communicate to Congress his position on the matter.
"Sabi ko kay Bong [Go], 'Sabihin mo sa kanila, Congress, it’s their choice. Hardly if it’s ours.' Kasi kung mag-input tayo, marami namang... Well of course, 'ah ganu'n ganu'n. Dictatorial. Ayaw ng election,'" the President said in a speech in Davao City.
"Alam mo na, maraming bright dito sa Pilipinas eh. So many brights na nagpa-iwan. Akala nila tayo na lang ang bugok. So sabi ko, 'Mag-eleksyon, okay. Inyong decision ‘yan,’” he added.
Duterte, however, reminded the public that the country's drug situation remains "very alive and vicious."
"So kung manalo ‘yang mga barangay captains na-backed up ng drug money, eh panibagong away ‘yan. Panibagong patayan na naman ‘yan," he said.
"Eh ako, hindi ko sinasabi na walang election o may election. But I will never, never until the end of my term, to the last day, allow a government official to use his power or position as a platform to engage in criminality, especially drugs,” the President said.
The barangay and SK elections were originally scheduled in October 2016, but were postponed to October 2017. Congress then moved it to May this year. Duterte signed it into law in October 2017.
Surigao del Sur Representative Johnny Pimentel has filed a bill to move the barangay and SK polls to October 2018, while Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali said that these can be held simultaneously with the May 2019 midterm elections.
On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the supermajority in the House of Representatives is hatching plans to get rid of the elections and allow for an extension of their term of office through charter change.
Drilon said the supermajority would "railroad" Charter change and submit it to the plebiscite together with the barangay and SK elections in October or November.
Duterte's spokesman, Harry Roque, denied this on Monday, saying there will be "a lot of discussions" on constitutional reform in the future.
Roque also said there was no support in the Senate for another postponement, citing a pronouncement from Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III. —KG, GMA News