NOW that barangay elections are a go it can be pointed out that the DILG-issued list of qualities to look for in barangay officials is utterly useless.
Not to belabor the point but to put that claim in proper context, the problem of massive poverty in the country is rooted in an exclusive economic system, a neo-liberal capitalist system that, to use a worn-out-but-still-true phrase, makes the rich richer and the poor poorer in a worse way than even the old laissez-faire capitalism ever did.
We are unable to shift to a more inclusive economy because the power to change the system is in the hands of representatives, surrogates, lackeys, puppets (call them what you want they mean the same) of neo-liberal big business, big landholdings and big criminal syndicates.
They win elections with their money under our undemocratic elections system. Once in positions of power and control they initiate policies, laws and programs that are implemented or not implemented in their favor. They appoint like-minded allies to man the various departments and bureaus of government to insure that the economic and political status quos that favor them are preserved.
How this relates to barangay elections is eloquently summed up by a politician who told me he wants barangay elections postponed indefinitely. His reason? It’s like “we are running ourselves because we have to spend for the campaign of our chosen candidates for barangay offices.”
They have to do this because they rely on elected barangay officials to give them the needed votes when it’s time for them, mayors and councilors, to run for office. The barangays are in fact the battleground for votes for all higher offices. To insure a winning share of votes from the barangays, higher elective officials, from the president down to municipal mayors and councilors, must so to speak “buy” barangay officials with funds for the latter’s election campaign.
Barangay elections are set up to be won purely on the money of the funders who invariably are wealthy businessmen, landlords and now drug lords. As long, therefore, as our elections are won on money, guidelines on qualities to look for in elective officials are utterly useless. Very simply, those barangay officials who are most generous with their funders’ money invariably come out the winners.
Relating this to federalism, the form of government is not as crucial as the electoral and representation systems. Unitary or federal, for as long as only representatives of wealthy business, land and drug/criminal lords can afford to run for office, our exclusive economic system and pseudo-democratic political system will continue to benefit mainly those in power and leave a trickle to the powerless.