MANILA—An election lawyer said appointing barangay officials is unconstitutional.
“Any law or executive order declaring as “vacant” all existing elective barangay positions and to appoint their replacements is unconstitutional,” said lawyer Romulo Macalintal in a forum on Monday.
He added, “It will also violate the constitutional right to security of tenure of these barangay officials as that would be tantamount to removal from office without a just or valid cause.”
Section 8, Article X of the 1987 Constitution recognizes barangays as “elective local officials” like regional, provincial, city and municipal elected officials.
“Clearly, barangay officials shall be elected since, like provincial, city and municipal officials, they are referred to in the constitution as “elective officials” governed by R. A. 7160 or the Local Government Code which, as amended, mandates the election of a Punong Barangay and seven Barangay Councilors or Kagawads,” he explained.
“If barangay officials could be appointed and their positions be declared vacant by a mere order of the president, then the same could be applied to governors, mayors and councilors as they belong to the same category of being “local elective officials”. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, so to speak,” Macalintal added.
With this, he noted that if President Rodrigo Duterte wants to appoint the barangay official, the Constitution should be amended with regard to the matter of local officials.
“If the intention of the President is to identify or monitor the barangay officials allegedly involved in illegal drugs, the remedy is to file appropriate charges against them,” Macalintal said.
He added, “He can also ask Congress to abolish the positions of barangay councilors so it would be easy for him to monitor the 42,095 punong barangays instead of the entire 336,810 barangay officials.”
On the other hand, a Manila priest opined that the people should be given the chance to elect barangay officials.
“Let the people decide whom they want as barangay leaders. Let the law be followed instead of skirting it,” said Fr. Jerome Secillano, Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro Parish in Sampaloc.
“There are legal issues with regards to appointing brgy. officials instead of electing them. Besides, even if the nominees will be named by the religious sector, this practice of appointing them smacks of patronage politics,” he added.