ELECTED officials of Baguio have resurfaced talks on the long overdue plan to merge the 128 barangays down to 44 villages.

The planned merger has been stalled for several years since 2003 and discussions were resurrected in 2013 after Lower Dagsian Punong Barangay Michael Lee Lawana was elected as the president of the Association of Barangay Captains in Baguio.

But despite the long hours spent on discussing the matter at the City Council over the past three years, there was no final decision derived.

Now that the same topic is being raised, one would say the barangay officials whose jurisdiction is merged into bigger villages are still voicing out opposition to the merger while the bigger barangays are thrilled of expanding their areas of authority.

Barangay officials then called for grassroots consultation to identify if merging is supported by the people. But no grassroots consultation was made since 2013 up to present.

Officials claim among the advantages of barangay merging is the regularization of the monthly salary of barangay officials and will also give chance for a fulltime position that will qualify them for retirement coverage from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

In 2013, the City Council approved on first reading a resolution for the rationalization of the 128 barangays in Baguio City to solve boundary disputes and to professionalize the salaries of barangay officials.

The proposal was referred to the committee on Barangay Affairs then chaired by former Councilor Rocky Aliping but up to now, the proposed edict is yet to pass the second and third reading of the legislative body – if it will ever reach the final reading.

The proposal cited the provisions of the Local Government Code mandating that each barangay must have a minimum of 5,000 inhabitants.

While this political move may cut off the power of some village chiefs, the merger plan is laudable if the aim to solve boundary dispute and professionalize LGU management is achieved.

But before the shark eats the small fish, grassroots consultation should be conducted the soonest.