Editorial: Relief for the barangays-A A +A
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
WHEN the Commission on Elections (Comelec) decided to postpone the barangay polls in Bohol, it accomplished at least two things.
First, it gave some suffering Boholanos a break from the exasperation that must have been provoked by sample ballots slipped into some bags of sardines and rice, then handed out as relief goods.
Second, it afforded local politicians and their benefactors time to focus on the real need of the hour. In the weeks ahead, supporting earthquake survivors as they begin to rebuild homes and livelihoods should take priority.
That this support must be distributed on the basis of need and not political alliances should not even have to be said. But apparently it does. Weary voters should return the favor by making sure that local officials who put politicking above relief and recovery efforts never darken the doors of public office again.
To be fair, however, we are certain there are more public servants out there who are risking their lives to help the Boholano community find their bearings. There are barangay captains and mayors, soldiers and social workers who take treacherous roads to bring water, food and other necessities to constituents who need them.
Last Tuesday’s quake has brought out the worst in a few, but it has also drawn out the best in countless others, and not just those behind heroic relief campaigns in the private sector. The disaster created both challenges and opportunities for the institution of the barangay, which sometimes demonstrates the worst about politics in this country, yet also, when it works, brings the government to life in our communities.
We hope that for every barangay official who stood in the way of aid reaching their frazzled communities, there are others who put off repairs on their own homes, in order to secure their neighbors’ shelter. That for every barangay aspirant who saw the relief effort as an opportunity for exposure, there were others who sought, found and delivered help, without asking for anything in return.
In postponing the barangay elections, the Comelec gave barangay officials a chance to show their better selves. We hope, for all our sakes, that not all of them disappoint us.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 23, 2013.