The Barangay Elections-A A +A
The Council Reports
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
THE recently concluded barangay elections in the city of Baguio is peaceful, not generally, but absolutely peaceful. It has been this way for several decades and will continue to be even without so called peace covenants. This is simply the way politics has been waged in the city of Pines, no evil schemes to waylay or ambush political opponents just to gain victory in the polls or resorting to overt mudslinging to destroy an opponent’s reputation.
Ours in the city is much more subtle and sublime when it comes to politics and the manner by which campaigns are conducted to win over or against an opponent. This however cannot be said for the general situation of the country in the recently held barangay elections where the Philippine National Police reported on Monday that 22 candidates and supporters had been killed in pre-poll violence and that they still expect the number of casualties to rise as they are still receiving reports from their field units.
This is quite alarming considering that security measures have been enhanced and augmented purposely to avoid these kinds of violence during the barangay elections. It therefore becomes clear that despite announcements by Comelec that the recently held barangay elections was generally peaceful no amount of information distortion can account for the fact that more election related deaths occurred this time than in the previous 2010 barangay election.
What this also tells us is that despite the barangays being the smallest political units in the country they are no less important that higher political offices considering their potential as political bases from which politicians can catapult their careers. That being so no amount of warning or prohibition can deter a politician from establishing support from the barangay thru its barangay officials in order to secure his machinery when he runs for office. That barangay elections should be non-partisan is a joke that no seasoned politician will take seriously for even one moment. In fact the barangay elections is one way where local and national politicians can begin their political campaigns by ensuring that their supporters get elected into barangay office.
The barangay elections are a hotly contested affair because it is where political ambitions are nurtured and where the opportunity to meddle in the people’s money actually begins. This is also where power as defined in law and politics is first tasted.
On the other end of the spectrum, the foray into barangay politics also prepares individuals seeking to express their honest intention to serve the people. The barangay serves as an arena where ordinary people are bestowed responsibility and nascent leadership in public service. In other words how to become a true public servant. This is the reason why there is also a need to reinforce and fortify existing mechanisms in the barangays in order to strengthen the structure of barangay governance and modernize the educational base of future political leaders. This is important if only to provide a better political avenue to future public servants harboring an honest intention to serve the people.
In the lower house of Congress, Magdalo lawmakers Gary Alejano and Francisco Ashley Acedillo are pushing for a bill that would allocate P20 billion for the proposed Barangay Development Fund and which would be tapped under a 20-year plan to accelerate the transformation of the 42,028 barangays to improve the services they provide. According to the lawmakers the fastest way to deliver basic services to the people may be through a P20-billion fund to develop the barangays considering that they (barangays) serve as the primary implementing unit for government policies, plans, programs, projects and activities in the community. According to the authors, there is a need to boost barangays to ensure that any progress the country experiences would trickle down to those who need it.
As reported in the news the said bill includes a common plan for all the communities, as well as specific strategies to address the unique needs of each barangay. The program, according to the authors, shall address the different needs of every barangay, from physical infrastructure to economic infrastructure, which shall ultimately make the barangay an economic unit and thus the primary engine of growth for national development. The authors add that the 20 billion fund could be sourced from savings and from 20 percent of all expanded value-added tax collections.
Congratulations to all the new barangay officials in the city of Baguio.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 30, 2013.