Get down to work

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NOW that the 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections are over, it’s time for the elected to get down to work and be part of nation-building. Twice postponed, the Barangay and SK elections on Monday were generally peaceful, save for a barangay in Agoo, La Union where a former lawmaker, along with his two body guards, was gunned down. And it happened a day before election day.

The election was characterized too by a relatively high turnout, with the voters very conspicuous in their desire to support through the ballots their chosen candidates. After all, it was their first time to elect barangay officials in eight years.

Most of the precincts I’ve seen had long queues of voters right at the onset of the election at 7 in the morning. That’s how excited they were.

As of 6 p.m. on Monday – or three hours after the closing of election – supporters of contending candidates were patiently awaiting the results as the election officials labored with the manual counting.

Before the day is over, I guess, winners would have been known already. I can only hope that the barangay folks return to normal after the counting and the winners declared.

Barangay elections are important. The barangay is the basic political subdivision of the country, which means that the immediate concerns within the community are brought to the attention of the barangay and there, barangay officials find a way in earnest and avoid having that concern elevated to the city council.

Before, we used to call them ‘tenyente del barrio’ and ‘kunsihales’ and they served without pay. They approached city and municipal mayors and council elders for help in solving barrio problems.

What we see now is in sharp contrast: they get pay and they are allowed to manage the funds extended them based on internal revenues allotments. Their monthly pay are also based on their IRA. There are barangays that have huge IRAs, that the barangay captain draws salary of as much as P24,000 a month. The same goes for the ‘kagawads.’

The barangays have also become such a powerful political entity that they can even have a say on multi-national companies doing business within the barangay jurisdiction. The practice is, these barangay captains receive plenty of perks such as disposition of usable scraps from companies, not to mention the supply of manpower.

Barrio folks who may not have in their vocabulary the word “service” suddenly throw in their hats in the political arena, and you know why.

Nevertheless, the country’s unemployment rate would dip after this election. There are about 42,044 barangays in the country, each needing one barangay captain, seven councilors, one SK chairman. Each barangay has to employ one barangay secretary and one treasurer. That means, barangay has to bankroll the salaries of 11 officials. Multiply these with 42,044, you’ll get a product of 462,484. That’s the number of barangay officials that will draw monthly salaries.

We can only hope that the elected would deliver for the betterment of barangays all over the Philippines.

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