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Appointing barangay execs unconstitutional - election expert.

Amend the Constitution first, otherwise declaring all barangay positions vacant and appointing new ones would be unconstitutional, an election law expert said Monday.

Lawyer Romulo Macalintal said President Rodrigo Duterte could ask Congress to abolish the positions of barangay councilors to make it easier for the President to monitor the local officials involved in drugs and the government could have a monthly savings of over P2-billion.

'After all, the specific positions of 'punong barangay' or 'barangay councilors' are not provided for in the Constitution which only refers to election of 'barangay officials.'

'Since 'punong barangays' and 'barangay councilors' are mere creation of laws, then barangay councilor positions could be abolished by Congress,' he added.

There are 42,095 barangays headed by 42,095 punong barangays and 294,715 barangay councilors (42,095 barangays x 7 councilors per barangay) or a total of 336,810 barangay positions which needed to be filled up if declared vacant.

A barangay councilor has a monthly salary of P10,000. Abolishing the position could result in monthly savings of about P2.9 billion and P34.8 billion annually.

Even Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez favors the abolition of barangay councilors whom he said 'are freeloaders in the government' and who, 'in reality are not working.' He said, 'Only barangay captains are working.'

The positions of the punong barangay and councilors, who form the Sangguniang Barangay, are mandated under the Local Government Code (LGC) to form the 'persons in authority' in the barangay, the basic political unit.

The punong barangay is the chief executive, while the Sangguniang Barangay serves as the community's legislative body.

Section 388 of the LGC says these officials are 'charged with the maintenance of public order, protection and security of life and property, or the maintenance of a desirable and balanced environment' in their communities.

Macalintal said that if Duterte wanted a more radical change in the local government units and save more, he could also ask Congres to abolish the provincial board members, and the city and municipal councilors even for a period of five years to also save hundreds of billions of pesos which could be used for worthy projects of the government.

'The Constitution does not also provide for the election of these positions, hence, could be abolished by law,' he explained.

Macalintal said a mere order to declare 'vacant' all existing elective barangay positions and to appoint their replacements would be unconstitutional.

He added that declaring vacant all existing elective barangay positions would also violate the constitutional right to security of tenure of the current officials.

'That would be tantamount to removal from office without a just or valid cause,' Macalintal said.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Mar 27, 2017
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