FOR 30 years since the passage of Local Government Code of 1991, most barangay units and officials have turned from mechanisms of good local governance to political instruments of local politicians and dynasties in advancing and perpetrating their vested political and economic interests.
For years, the barangay units have been left to the control of local politicians and dynasties of oligarchs. In the process, they become accessories of organized corruption and crimes, partisan tools in elections, and eventually as sources of countless community divisions and conflict.
Thousands of them have been elected to their posts through their political patrons, and not by education qualifications and standards of the civil service law.
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.
This had led to the transformation of many barangay units as partisan formation and groupings of unprofessional, thieves and thugs.
The barangay unit is the face of government in 144 cities and 1490 municipalities. They have been given so much powers under the Local Government Code of 1991 (LGC) to deliver basic services in their area of responsibility, and shepherd the people to become responsible, progressive and peace-loving citizens.
To prevent them from being used by and for vested interests, there should be programmatic intervention to raise the functionality of the barangay systems, procedures and operations, and the re-orientation of the officials towards appreciating their important and frontline role in local governance.
Unless the barangay unit is depoliticized institutionally and decisively, and the barangay officials are professionalized and equipped with necessary qualifications to govern in accordance with the LGC and other greater governance values, the gravity of the problem will likely turn from bad to worse, and the national government will just be wasting money, talents and time.
Since it will take a longer and complicated process for Congress to effect necessary amendments or enactment of a new law to this effect, the DILG should take greater initiatives to enforce stricter political supervision overall all 42,046 barangays nationwide.
DILG should strengthen political supervision over all the barangay units to ensure that they become effective tools for inclusive, resilient and sustainable local development, and for just and lasting peace in their locality.
The stricter political supervision over the barangay should cover from the barangay enforcement of national laws, executive orders, joint MCs, and DILG MCs pertaining to effective governance and delivery of basic services.
Along with it, the comprehensive training of barangay officials and support personnel must be ensured to make them effective public servants with greater responsibility and accountability, opportunity providers to their community constituents and as development managers.
There should also be policy and action support for the barangay's lead role against corruption, crimes, illegal drugs and terrorism.
Included should be policy safeguards against Barangay officials engaging in electoral partisanship, including promotion of all forms of patronage politics.
Administrative and criminal sanctions for serious violations of the MC, and pertinent laws and orders.
The DILG LGOOs and DILG City Directors should have the primary responsibility to enforce this; the provincial DILG officers shall oversee the effective implementation such action.
The Local Government Academy (LGA) should be given the tasks to handle the governance and capacity development needs of the barangay units and officials.
The CSOs and POs and/or their network in the locality should also take part in the monitoring and evaluation of the performance of the barangay unit and officials. Their feedbacks and observations should be forwarded to the DILG national office for evaluation and actions.
The USECs for Operations and NBOO, in close coordination with the OSEC, should put up appropriate units that shall hear and try all cases pertaining to violations or non-compliance by the concerned barangay units and officials.
When these are done even without amending the Local Government Code, an environment where barangay units become forces of change and development will be enhanced.