Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday said forbidding barangay officials from prematurely campaigning for the possible presidential bid of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio would “suppress free speech”.
In a tweet, Locsin even taunted the detractors of the presidential daughter to “try again”, saying that such an issue will win him easily if brought to the Supreme Court.
“No. That would suppress free speech and impose a disabling obligation on candidates to alienate their supporters by obliging him to disown them. I will take such a suggestion to the Supreme Court and I will win without breaking a sweat,” the foreign secretary said.
The issue about the involvement of elected grassroots leaders in political partisanship came when former Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño shared on Twitter a photo of a supposed letter that a barangay chair had sent to a Bulacan homeowners’ association concerning a survey to determine if there was enough voter support for Duterte-Carpio who is rumored to be eyeing the presidency in the 2022 elections.
The former lawmaker raised alarm over the May 27, 2021 letter signed by a certain Barangay Chairman Mark Anthony Velasquez, and was addressed to the homeowners’ association of Camella Phase 1 and 2 in Barangay Pagala, Baliwag, Bulacan.
“This is basically campaigning and building the machinery for the candidacy of Sara Duterte, something that the barangay officials and local officials are not supposed to do,” Casiño said in an interview with ANC on Tuesday, June 1, 2021.
Casiño said the letter does not look like a survey at all but a “list of who supports the President and who supports Sara Duterte running for the presidency.”
He stressed that obviously the barangay officials are being used in the campaigning, which the country’s election laws “explicitly prohibits”.
“Our election law explicitly prohibits barangay officials from engaging in partisan political activities I think it’s the law on local governments that does that. Secondly, as far as local laws are concerned, public funds, public resources, and public offices are not supposed to be used for this kind of partisan political activity,” he added.