OCTOBER has come, and in local politics, it means this is the season of the long-awaited barangay elections. Many times this have been postponed, and barangay officials and other hopeful candidates themselves, most of them, are already anxious for it to happen.
Although there is a pending law, waiting to be signed by the President, to make this year’s elections postponed again, but the Commission on Elections (Comelec) nonetheless continues to mobilize in preparation for October 23. Except, of course, in Mindanao.
Earlier in September, a Comelec resolution was signed that all barangays in Mindanao will have a suspension of local elections due to the implementation of Martial Law. The Comelec deemed the move as measure to avoid election-related violence and disorder, added to the ongoing crisis in Marawi City.
On the brighter side, those who are currently sitting as barangay officials will have an extended duty to the office and their constituents. It means more time to be exposed and prove to the people that they are worth to be re-elected should they run for the office again. Meanwhile, those who wish to contest incumbent leaders or try their luck to be newly elected to a barangay leadership post, it may take a long while.
Barangay elections also include the elections for Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), of which until now it is still being debated whether it should continue to exist or not. The prime reason as to some would want this abolished is that SKs are basically useless and susceptible to corruption by the political elders.
In our current political system, barangay and SK officials practically serve as footmen to the higher political powers within the local government units, especially when there is a strong competition among local officials running in the local executive positions like mayors and governors. This, despite the code set by the Department of Interior of Local Government mandated barangay officials to be non-partisan.
Some barangay officials in Cagayan de Oro City have this kind of dilemma. One was identified helping and supporting a political opponent, thus, he has a hard time asking support to the local government to sustain their barangay projects.
The other one was accommodating to whatever local political parties as long as these groups give donations and help to their barangay. However, a problem arose when one political party learned that this barangay official went to the opposing political party for help, thus, he was accused of supporting the “other” party, which may mean a hard time getting future support.
It can be understood that there are those barangay officials who have genuine interest to serve its community, however the politics coming from the higher echelons compel them to chose sides and be instruments of politicians to secure votes every elections for national and local government level. Some cities and municipalities, barangay officials are expected to submit its loyalty to who is sitting as local chief executive in order to survive.
Some practices and traditions need to be reformed, especially if we aim for a new form government that is federalism.