Gov. Roel Degamo has warned Negrenses against a group called AGTTA-IP, that has been recruiting individuals in Dumaguete City, including pastors, and assuring them of being appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as replacements of incumbent barangay officials starting December this year.

He said the public should not believe in the claims of the organizers that “Tatay Digong Duterte” will appoint them as barangay officials, along with 24 barangay police, secretaries and treasurers”.

As far as the Commission on Elections is concerned, there is going to be elections in October this year, unless Congress will approve amendments when they resume session on July 25, after the State of the Nation Address of the President, Degamo said.

In case of an appointment, Degamo believes that first to be replaced are barangay officials who are involved in the illegal drug trade and that elected barangay officials will remain in a holdover capacity as truly representatives of their constituents.

The group and the recruits had a one-day seminar at El Oriente beach in Mangnao two weeks ago, and convinced those in the list to be members and pay P150 for their identification cards and certificates of attendance.

Last June 25, they were asked to attend a gathering in Mabinay with more or less 1,000 recruits, and were asked to bring along with them live chickens and other food items.

Rep. Manuel Sagarbarria (Neg. Or., 2 nd District) had earlier intimated the stand of the Visayan bloc composed of about 41 congressmen to vehemently object to an appointment of barangay officials by one person alone.

They are one with the President in postponing the barangay and SK elections but on a holdover capacity until things will settle down.

Meanwhile, Pastor Jerome Nalam, designated as Kilusang Pagbabago provincial chairman, also received reports of the movements in the ground but it not sure whether it is recognized by the government.

He explained that constitutionally, it can’t be done, questioning the legitimacy of the group that has already penetrated several barangays in the city.

Nalam personally believes the activity in Mabinay on Sunday was part of the ritual to slaughter livestock for meat as they were told to bring live chickens.

He stressed that indigenous peoples also have rights, including the right to self-government, right to cultural heritage, and are equal to other people but as to the listing, he is not sure if it is sanctioned by government.*JG