Barangay conundrum

PERSPECTIVE
Barangay conundrum

The barangay system is designed to be on the ground as the frontline of government or to make the system closer to the people.

But so sad that barangay has become an instrument of corruption, oppression, and a weapon of social division.

Our local government code, and its barangay system, have localized and fragmentized almost everything. You need to get baptized, married, hospitalized, or arrange a funeral service for you or kin or friend, get clearances first from the barangay and the local government unit (LGU).

If you want to get a job locally or abroad, get first clearances from the barangay and the LGU. You need a senior ID, PWD card, or Comelec ID, or secure your Philhealth and Pag-ibig papers, get clearance or endorsement first from your barangay and the LGU.

Everything that matters now practically begins and ends in the local.

The gross effect is that our people are now engrossed in their local day-to-day survival and less and less concerned about national interest concerns, especially the worsening corruption in the national offices.

The saddest part is that the barangay system is the least to run to for welfare and justice.

If you are known as “contra-partido” you will likely get less attention, or worse, discriminated in social services and assistance. 

If your “Kapitan” and “kagawads” are incompetent in governance and development, or worse, insensitive to the welfare of the people, the barangay will be stagnant, and the development-minded citizens and professionals will likely and always quarrel with them. 

The supposed pillar of our political system has turned elitist, anarchic, corrupt, and directionless.

Most barangay units are not genuinely participatory in democratic governance. Many continue to be ruled by old and new political dynasties, just making barangay officials their errands and bogeymen.

Election to barangay seats is not governed by the rule of law and competency but by the old patronage political system. If an aspirant has a political patron in the powers that be and has own money, he or she might win in a barangay election. Though in most cases, he or she who has both will likely barge into the Barangay Hall.

The barangay system has also become a down-heavy bureaucracy as it now increases the number of people that the government has to feed and corrupt, thus reducing further services and support for the people and their communities.

The ruling elites and their parrots and operators have also conjured the illusion that the strengthening of the so-called barangay system automatically empowers the widest sectors possible. Obviously, it is the contrary. Worse, it has expanded, "democratized" and entrenched the bureaucratic corruption down to the kagawad, staff, and tanods.

In many or most barangays, positions for barangay chief or kagawad are highly coveted, not because they are interested in good governance, people’s welfare, and barangay development, but because of the opportunity for employment and juicy benefits.

Do you still wonder why thousands fight for a few barangay seats? Spend so much money to win?  Destroy kinship and friendship for vested interest?

Records from the Commission Elections (Comelec) show that in Negros Occidental alone including Bacolod City, shows an unprecedented 17,223 candidates vying for Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan positions. Of which, 1,611 are vying for 662 Barangay chief positions, while 15,612 are fighting it out for 4,634 Barangay Councilor and Sangguniang Kabataan seats.

The barangay system has turned into a deadly monster. It devours and corrupts people. It limits people’s interests and concerns.

So sad. So deplorable.*

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