Sunday, 10 November 2013

EDITORIAL: The barangay and the grassroots

THE barangay is the smallest unit of the municipal government but it is the one closest to the people.

Therefore, the success of governance by the town mayor begins at the barangay.

The grassroots may fail to see the mayor for whatever concerns they may have, but they could easily see the head of the baranggay – the chairman --  who is commonly known as the barangay captain, or si Kapitan or si Kapitana.

This is because he lives among them; his house is just nearby and is readily accessible to his neighbors day and night except when he is in a drunken slumber.

The neighbors are also the chairman’s constituents, who sometimes don’t want to go to the baranggay hall for a reason or another.

Garbage not collected? See the baranggay. A dispute with the neighbor? Talk to Kapitan or Kapitana. Drunkards roaming the village street at night, phone the kagawad at the purok. A robber inside the house, run to the baranggay outpost.

It’s that simple. If the baranggay is working properly, there should be no problem dispensing with the solution.

In short, a barangay resident with grievance to air could do so in front of the chairman, and he, being the head of the community can only welcome him to sort things out.

And if there’s a need for the chairman to elevate the constituent’s concern to the office of the mayor because acting on it is just beyond his capacity, he should do it being his job, because that is the only appropriate option for him to choose.

Should he fail to do this – that is to bring the concerns of his constituents to the highest office in the municipal government – then the barangay itself as the first recourse of the people, could be deemed a failure.

An ordinary problem in the baranggay is likened to a tiny batch of pixels in a digital picture that can only give a hazy image, but as the number of pixels increased, the image they create becomes clear – until a bigger picture unfolds, and that is a picture of a failed barangay.

Replicate this failure to the rest of the barangays in the municipality – as in this case the 26 other baranggays in Mambulao – then the entire municipal government would be deemed a failed government.

In short, each of the 27 barangays in Mambulao makes up the blocks that support the municipal government under the leadership of Mayor Ricarte “Dong” Padilla. A weak block could spell troubles for the whole structure.

A barangay that has failed to serve the good of the good of its constituents simply because the chairman is kaput or mediocre becomes a liability to the municipal government.

But more so to the grassroots who are the direct hit casualties of such a failure – and not just a collateral damage.

So, never under estimate the role of your barangay and its chairman.

The chairman could either make your day pleasant or nasty, depending on how he resolves your concern, and the image of the barangay – whether it is good or bad – could send a signal of how effective the mayor is doing his job.

So, after electing the new chairmen in the 27 baranggay, the villagers should take the next step to vigilance, because only through this could the true spirit of barangay democracy work.

- Alfredo P Hernandez

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