John Matthew Cruz
THE Department of Justice (DOJ) can start investigating barangay (village) officials suspected to be involved in the illegal drug trade and file charges against them if evidence warrants, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
In a media interview, Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the DOJ can initiate a probe and charge drug-tainted barangay officials to prevent them from assuming their posts.
“This particular move not to hold barangay elections is precisely what the President has said again and again to make sure that they do not enter into active politics,” Abella told reporters.
“If the DOJ finds that [they are really connected to the drug trade], I think they should initiate their own moves. They are (an) independent body. They’re under [the executive branch]but I’m sure they can take the initiative. Be proactive about the matter,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier claimed that 40 percent of all barangay chairmen in the country are involved in drugs. This prompted him to seek the postponement of the barangay election scheduled in October so that drug-tainted personalities will not reassume their posts.
The President had expressed the desire to appoint barangay heads if the election will not be held. Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has supported the move to defer the village elections.
He said a bill can be filed allowing the President to appoint barangay chairmen.
On Monday, Surigao Del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers filed House Bill 5359 seeking to postpone the barangay and Sanggunian Kabataan elections to May 2020.