SENATE President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III called for an emergency meeting with his fellow lawmakers on Sunday to discuss President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposed suspension of the October barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections following “reports” that drug syndicates would finance the campaign of some candidates.
Pimentel, on Tuesday, said no decisions were made during the meeting but a consensus that the postponement of the barangay polls is possible, as it was already done before, was reached. However, the lawmakers still have to study Pres. Duterte’s plan to appoint barangay officials.
“Kanya-kanya kaming aral if the proposal to postpone and appoint the barangay officials is constitutional or legal. Wala pang consession among the senators.”
Pressed whether he agrees with the President’s plan, Pimentel said: “Mag-aaral pa lang. Dapat pag-aralan kasi we don’t just dismiss or immediately accept the proposal.”
He also explained that he called for an emergency meeting because does not want to waste time.
“Why waste time? I was free Sunday evening. Tumawag na ako who could attend. Ako I could have been contend kahit tatlo lamang kami anduon, basta kung sino lang ang makapunta,” Pimentel said.
At the same time, Pimentel said he needs to meet with the president to determine the “details” of his proposal to suspend the twin elections since 42,000 barangays will be affected by his plan.
“Kaya kailangan I need to meet (Interior and Local Government) Secretary (Ismael) Sueno or the President to know what he really wants,” Pimentel added.
“Ang gagawin ko na lamang (is) to get more information, I need to meet the President to get the details of his proposal. Basta ganoon po iyon,” he said.
Asked if there is a need to amend the Constitution to implement the President’s plan, Pimentel said:“We have to study. Sa Constitution, ipinasa n’ya ang details sa law. The nitty gritty of the barangay including the terms, are passed by the Constitution to the legislature.
“Sinabi ng law (Local Government Code), the term of elected official shall be three years except the barangay officials whose term shall be fixed by law. That provision manifests the desire of the constitutional makers, to pass to the legislature almost all the details regarding the barangay,” he said.
“Basta kapag barangay matters, that is legimately the subject matter of the legislature, iyan ang klaruhin natin. Amending the Local Government Code is an amendment of the law, that is (the function of the) legislature,” he said.
Pimentel added:“Hindi siya ganoon kabigat. It is law. Hindi kailangan baguhin ang Constitution.”