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Rethink postponing village polls, Duterte told

A Catholic priest said President Rodrigo Duterte should push through with the village polls instead of toying with the idea of appointing barangay officials.

Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the bishops’ Committee on Public Affairs, said the people have the right to elect their leaders.

“Let the people decide whom they want as barangay leaders. Let the law be followed instead of skirting it,” he said.

Duterte has earlier said he wants to postpone barangay elections in October again and to declare all village posts vacant in a bid to stop “narco-politics.”

The President also said he is willing to make a “compromise” with Church leaders and allow them to nominate individuals for the posts.

But the priest hinted the Church would reject the proposal because they are barred from partisan political activity.

“Even if the nominees will be named by the religious sector, this practice of appointing them smacks of patronage politics,” explained Secillano.

The Church-backed Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting also said a valid reason determined through a proper process is needed to reset the upcoming barangay elections.

PPCRV chair Rene Sarmiento did not make a categorical statement on the matter but said the proposal would need careful study.

“For reasons that are legitimate, I see no reason why barangay elections be not postponed, as was done a number of times in the past,” he said.

“[But] Congress should hold hearings to determine the gravity and its impact on barangay elections,” he said.

The last barangay elections were held in October 2013. (R. Lagarde,  CBCPNews)