Zambo-Comelec, DILG at odds over barangay roles in campaign period

Officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)here are at loggerheads over the roles that barangay officials should play during the election period.

Poll and the local government officials are divided whether the 98 barangay chairmen and 798 "kagawad" (councilmen) can take active roles for or against candidates or political parties during the campaign period.

During the start of the campaign period last month, Comelec district officer Alan Ian Tria warned barangay officials against participating in any political activity in their barangays.

Tria said the Omnibus Election Code classifies barangay officials as non-partisan and should not belong to any political party.

He warned official against violating this code or they will be jailed, upon conviction for six months with no bail while the case is being heard.

After conviction, violators will also be barred from the government service and also from participating or running in any future election.

Despite the warning, barangay officials are seen actively participating in the campaign.

However,DILG City Director Mohamad Taja Arakama said on Wednesday barangay officials can join their campaign rallies and publicly endorse candidates of their choice.

Arakama said the Local Government Code does not bar elective barangay officials from participating in partisan politics.

He said the Comelec ban excludes elective officials and is applicable only to appointed barangay officials as the barangay secretary, treasurer, tanod and other appointed employees of barangay governments.