The Importance of Barangay Elections

There are a lot of problems and issues in our country which can be resolved at the barangay level.

After several postponements and delays, the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections will finally push through on May 14, 2018. The DILG and COMELEC recently announced that certificates of candidacies may be filed from April 14 to 20, while the campaign period has been set from May 2 to 12.

While interested individuals and groups are gearing up for another election season, the general public's reception on the forthcoming elections has been rather lukewarm. Perhaps, the relevance of the barangay system had been lost for most of us, if not all.

Section 384 of the Local Government Code of 1991 emphasizes the importance of the barangay as the 'primary planning and implementing unit of government policies, plans, programs, projects, and activities in the community.' In practice, however, barangays have been heavily dependent on higher political units for policy and programmatic direction and support.

In truth, some barangays are merely seen as refereeing bodies when there are fights within neighborhoods & households, gang wars, and debt settlement issues. While barangays are mandated to help resolve disputes, they are principally given executive and policy-making powers within their respective areas of jurisdiction to ensure that governance is felt by their constituents. For example, the Sangguniang Barangay has legislative power to enact ordinances and budgets to implement various development programs and activities in their communities.

There are a lot of problems and issues in our country which can be resolved at the barangay level. Unfortunately, both barangay officials and citizens are largely unaware that local issues are best resolved at the lowermost political unit in our society- the barangay level. Most of the time, the blame on various local issues is pinned on visible political figures such as Presidents or Mayors, whereas these can be resolved by barangay officials.

The current underappreciation on the importance of barangays stems from a lack of political and civic education. As a result, ill-equipped barangay officials are elected into office. Furthermore, many erring barangay officials are able to go scot-free from any accountability or responsibility as a result of poor services at the community level.

Given that the Duterte administration is eyeing a shift to federalism, our barangays must be equipped for the transition. This transition would require barangays to step-up on service delivery as more powers are expected to be devolved to the lowermost political units in the country.

The transition to federalism would only work well if we have competent barangay officials on-board to steer the process at the grassroots level. Otherwise, our failure to elect the right people at the barangay level come May 14 would not only cost us our immediate future. It may deprive us of our lone chance at making a significant leap towards becoming a developed nation.

About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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