Canlas: A turning point

There seems to be a brewing public clamor for civic-minded, respectable and educated “Kabaryo” to seek elective office this forthcoming barangay elections.

A good number of these Kabaryo are retirees and professionals who desire to serve their respective communities as hinted, but the vices of traditional politics continue to dissuade them. Many are hoping for a change of mindset and throw their hats in barangay politics.

The gladdening news is that not a few of this Kabaryo, inspired by the victory of President Rodrigo Duterte who won the people’s ultimate sovereign gift on the basis alone of his solemn pledge to vanquish worsening criminalities, graft and corruption and gripping poverty.

Of course, the President’s performance as mayor of Davao City is a critical factor for his landslide victory. Inevitably, the question is asked: Is the electoral triumph of President “Tatay” Digong a drift away from the evils of traditional politics notwithstanding the massive vote-buying unleashed by one or two of his adversaries? Indeed, this sovereign trust surges despite the unrelenting attacks of his political detractors from within and elsewhere.

Certainly, the President’s popularity has seeped down to the countryside that those incumbent local officials, particularly at the Municipal and Barangay levels, who are known to have openly campaigned for other Presidential bets are now shamefacedly going the rounds telling their constituents that they supported President Tatay Digong to bolster their own popularity or to get a free ride so to speak. Tell that the Marines as the saying goes.

Another factor that may persuade this potent source of barangay leaders is the conviction of the President that the success of his pledge of a better life for the Filipino people largely depends on the support and cooperation of barangay officials.

And rightly so because under the Local Government Code of 1991, the barangay is the primary planning and implementing arm of government policies and programs designed to achieve the common aspiration for a better life.

But let’s be honest about it. The road to social and economic progress under an atmosphere of peace, clean environment, increased productivity, if it must begin at the barangay level in real time, is not easy. The man on the driver’s seat must not solely be motivated by personal ambition to savor the mundane accolade of honor attached to public office.

Indispensably, one seeking elective public office must have proven track record of participation in the realization of vital community projects, intellectual capacity and respectability. Short of these qualifications, the empowerment of barangays as catalyst for national development will remain unreliable.

Thus, to successfully reach that manifest destiny for a self-sustaining, prosperous, and respectable life, we must first transform ourselves by electing qualified leaders at the driver’s seat. That can be done if the price tag in the exercise of our right of suffrage is renounced and choose the candidate with the right credentials to energize the social and economic dynamics innate in the barangay.

This is what happened when the Filipino electorate in the sovereign capacity elected President Tatay Digong. We can and must do the same in choosing our barangay officials come May 14, 2018.

When that happens, this forthcoming grassroots democratic exercise will surely be a turning point in our long quest for social and economic transformation. God bless our barangay folks.
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