Ombion: Depoliticize barangay unit


INSTITUTIONALLY, to prevent it from being used by local politicians and dynasties for their vested interests, and as one of the chief sources of division, discontentment and widespread violence on the ground.

By institutionally, I mean, transfer it from control of the city and municipal government unit (LGUs) to the DILG central office, as the main structure for interior and local government.

Or create a separate national body say a National Barangay Administration (NBA) under the Office of the President that will provide overall direction and administration of all 42,046 barangays nationwide.

Either way, although I favor the option of barangay to DILG, the barangay units under this concept will become an independent and professional governance bodies, to ensure that the national policies, strategies, and programs are effectively and efficiently implemented on the ground, without any disruption and diversion from local politicians and dynasties.

Let us take note that the barangay is the face of the government on the ground. It has been given so much powers under the Local Government Code of 1991 (LGC). Unfortunately, a significant number of barangays are not functioning well according to their mandate and function as institution of good governance. In some areas, they have even turned as enemies of the people they ought to serve.

For 30 years of LGC, many have become political instruments of local politicians and dynasties governing most of the 144 cities and 1490 municipalities. They have been cultured to act like little mayors in their area of responsibility, acting like tyrants and warlords, and even depriving those who oppose or question their leadership the basic services and rights provided them under LGC and the Constitution.

I know not a few barangay officials and members who just gotten their posts not because they are qualified by the standards of the law, but by the support and manipulations of their political patrons. This has led to the transformation of barangay unit into a reign of unprofessionals, thieves, thugs and oppressors.

In a number of cases, they have even been used by their political patrons and powers that be to undermine the national government or its policies and programs.

Recently, the DILG with the help of its attached agency, the Local Government Academy and other state institutions have waged relentless campaign to raise the effective functionality of the barangays by raising the capacities of officials and members in local governance.

This has helped, in one way or the other.

But I still believe, and so my multi-disciplinary group of CSOs, development workers, public administrators and governance practitioners, that unless the barangay unit is depoliticized institutionally and decisively, the gravity of the problem will likely turn from bad to worse, and the national government will just be wasting money, talents and time.

Of course, this cannot be done overnight because a legislative action is needed to amend or even recast the LGC., and the Congress can’t do it easily and simply because it too is a snakepit of contradictory interests and ideals.

And local politicians and dynasties who have been benefiting from this system will most likely oppose this idea.

But better to have this idea brought to the open especially the concerned government agency like DILG and the Office of the President, so they can give it their thoughts and discernment.

Great scientist and humanist Albert Einstein had this piece for this issue, “we cannot solve a problem by using the same framework that has created it.”


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