Pacete: Barangay election 101

BARANGAY election is barrio fiesta. It gives life to those who are dying. It gives the barangay folks the drive to see what happens after the election. Everybody expects for a comedy, promises to be broken, empty promises, and “generosity” that comes in varied packages.

We all know that there are congressmen with slapstick mentality in the House of Representatives who want to postpone barangay election for the sake of drollery. Barangay election, in theory, is expected to be a non-partisan political exercise. Candidates should not belong to a local or national party. A theory is different from reality. Barangay election candidates are always endorsed or supported by local political kingpins.

The candidate for Punong Barangay (Barangay Captain, Barangay Tsirman) is choosing his “kagawads” (candidates for barangay councilmen) to compose his slate. The local political leaders in the town or city have their “say.” That is important because these barangay candidates need funding to sell their political dreams. The controversial showdown could always happen between two or three candidates running for the position of punong barangay.

People around expect for colorful “hustings” (political campaigning). In a barangay election, candidates will be “dressed” or “undressed” by their opponents. People will know who separated from his wife. Bystanders will identify their children outside of marriage and many will frown on candidates who are not qualified.

The people have the right to know the “inner” and “outer” qualifications of the candidates. A punong barangay will be a “Little Mayor” in his barangay. He has the executive powers and the budget for his projects will be embodied in the program of work approved by his council. He will be in the helm of his government for flagship programs on infrastructure, health, education, tourism, peace and order, environment, culture, food security and many more.

Any candidate for punong barangay who dreams to occupy the office at the barangay center should first face the barangay election ordeal. The candidate for punong barangay should consider first his qualifications. He has to understand logistics. His supporters can hardly move without logistics. Many do not admit that there is “vote buying.”

That could be true but the situation always runs this way … a “more generous” candidate has more chances of winning over a “less generous” candidate. We always see candidates distributing bangus, tilapia, tuloy or tabagak to voters in their camping trail. Other candidates are followed by dirty ice cream vendors “to cool and sweeten” the campaign.

The “runners” of the candidates are always ahead in the rally area to distribute the snacks ahead. It is a fact that the political group should have a “rolling sound system.” Before the speeches, the children are made to dance with “prizes” from candidates. Others sponsor an amateur singing contest prior to the assembly.

An astute candidate will have a “political mapping” of the barangay to identify his sure voters. Captive voters are entitled to “feeding” weeks before the barangay election. That process is expensive but very effective. The amount in the “feeding program” should be increased towards the day of the election. Other candidates might offer “double or triple feeding program.” That will facilitate conversion program.

In some barangay election rallies, the incumbent officials of towns or cities may have their “surprise visit” to endorse their candidates and will offer also their “own feeding program”. Barangay election is barrio fiesta because political camps will offer food, drinks, transportation, and packages. Comelec may not smell on this because it has not enough personnel to check on these events. Anyone could always say, “today is my birthday and the whole barangay is invited.”

Sometimes funny incidents happen. Many candidates get sick prior to Election Day. They are really sick (hospitalized) or really sick by thinking that they do not have enough funds for their “feeding program” and the promise of funding of the top politicians did not arrive. Usually, political groups started their campaign for straight voting but as they near the finish line, some opt to campaign for single voting. Politics believes in united we stand, divided we fall.

This barangay election will be the barometer of town or city politicians to gauge their capacity to run in the 2019 election. These politicians are now preparing for their “own feeding program.” This time it should be bigger!
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