Barangay officials should be appointive, not elective

MANILA, Philippines — A Pampanga lawmaker is seeking the abolition of the election of barangay officials through a bill declaring them appointive officials.

“The holding of barangay elections has become a highly political event, created alarming situations, marred by violence, massive vote-buying and divisiveness even among family members,” Rep. Oscar S. Rodriguez, author of HB 3349, lamented.

HB 3349, pending with the Committee on Local Government, is entitled “An Act abolishing the election of Barangay officials, declaring all elective Barangay positions as appointive positions, amending for the purpose Sections 39, 40, 41, 42, and 43 of R.A. 7160 otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991.”

Corollary to this, Rodriguez pointed out that the Omnibus Election Code also provides that “barangay elections shall be non-partisan and shall be conducted in an expeditious and inexpensive manner.”

“Sad to say, barangay elections are now highly partisan, even dividing families and members of families fighting for the same positions,” he noted, adding that it has become so costly, dissipating resources of the candidates’ families for election campaign.

“What compounded the problem is that once elected, not few barangay officials engage in corruption in order to recover their so-called capital or prepare for the next election, among other reasons,” Rodriguez pointed out.

This, he stressed, is the main reason why many barangay projects intended for the delivery of basic social services are not implemented.

“Instead, a sizable amount of the barangay funds, particularly Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) are mainly utilized on allowances, salaries, bogus projects and other questionable disbursements,” he added.

The Constitution (Section 3, Article X) provides for the power of Congress to amend the provisions of the Local Government Code in order to abolish barangay elections and declare all barangay positions as appointive positions.

“My bill seeks to abolish only the barangay elections and not the barangay as a local government unit. The powers, responsibilities and resources of the barangay as provided in the Code remain the same,” Rodriguez clarified.

As the primary planning and implementing unit, barangays act as conduit of the Cities or Municipalities in the delivery of basic services to their constituents. Barangay officials similarly function as managers in a corporation, proposing plans and programs and monitoring that such will be properly implemented, the author explained.

Rodriguez said the City or Municipal mayors should be empowered to appoint the barangay officials within their jurisdictions to ensure harmony among city/municipal officials and barangay officials.

“This will encourage the effective implementation of programs and projects for the delivery of basic services. More often or prevalent are situations when barangay officials are identified with the political rival of the incumbent, barangay projects and programs are not realized,” he further noted.

Rodriguez also cited records of the deliberations of the Local Government Code of 1991 showing that there was already a suggestion from the principal author of the said Code, the former Senator Aquilino Pimentel, that “the barangay be recognized as a socio-economic and not a political unit.” PNA/