By Atty. Gilberto Lauengco, J.D.
In today’s everchanging world, things have become more complex. In trying to understand the problems and issues of today, It may help to view the scattered but interconnected pieces of the puzzle and observe with an oblique point of view.
Recently, a substitute bill seeking to postpone the December 2022 village and youth council (barangay and SK) elections to 2023 was approved by the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms. Legislators, election lawyers, commentators, and various watchdog groups alike have weighed in on the issue. Curiously, however, not enough people seem to be minding this issue. The barangay is literally the smallest local government unit in our form of government. It is however anything but “small stuff. Our barangay officials or our Kaps and Kags are normally the faces of government for many people. During the early days of the pandemic, they were the implementing arm for programs designed to ameliorate the effects of Covid-19 on communities. During disasters, they are normally the default first responders operating with little or no equipment. As such, people should pay more attention to issues affecting barangays.
The Supreme Court ruling in the Mandanas-Garcia case has also added a new dimension to the issue of barangays. The implementation of the said ruling will give added financial strength to local governments. The local governments will now be able to perform many of the devolved functions of the National Government Agencies. Barangays are an essential part of the local government unit. Most mayors utilize barangays for various project implementations.
Barangays will now have the ability and the mandate to implement their own programs, projects, and activities (PPA’s). Many barangays have also been given control over government assets within their jurisdiction. Given these conditions and developments, barangay officials therefore now can be the ideal partners for development projects. Unlike city and municipal government partnership projects, barangays have simpler procedures and processes for projects. Many barangays, however, do not have the personnel or technical know-how to pursue these projects. This is where private initiatives can come in. In terms of agricultural and small business development programs in communities, private groups or individuals can lend their finances and knowledge to our barangay officials. This is an urgent matter as we face a plethora of problems not the least of which is food security. This should be the primary concern of everyone.
We all have a right to voice our opinion on the matter but at the end of the day, Congress will determine when the barangay elections will happen. In the meantime, perhaps we can all do our part to help our barangays. If indeed your barangay official is not deserving of his position then an added year should help a more deserving person prepare for the next barangay election more properly. If your barangay officials are willing to cooperate with urgently needed joint initiatives, then an added year will be ideal. If the elections do push through then perhaps we should be more participative in the process to ensure that a proper official is elected.
There is a story of a Zen Philosopher and a boy. One day a boy got a horse as a gift everyone said what a lucky boy. The philosopher said we shall see. Thereafter, the boy fell from his horse and broke his leg. Everyone said the boy was unlucky. The philosopher said we will see. A few days later war broke out and the army drafted all able-bodied boys into the army except for the injured boy. Everyone then said the boy was lucky. What did the philosopher say? He said we shall see. The point is there are things that are out of our control. Perhaps we can focus on the matters we can do. The other stuff? We shall see…
This is my oblique observation…
Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Office of the Press Secretary.
About the Columnist
ATTY. GILBERTO LAUENGCO, J.D. is a lawyer, educator, political strategist, government consultant, Lego enthusiast, and the director of CAER Think Tank. He is a Former Vice Chairman of MECO, Special Assistant of NFA and City Administrator among others. His broad experience has molded his unique approach to issues analysis which he calls the oblique observation.