As the May 2019 mid-term elections approach, political positioning to favor certain candidates may become more rampant. To address this, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) warned barangay officials on Wednesday that partisan politics would not be tolerated.
DILG Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs Martin Diño addressed the issue while speaking during the first Provincial Anti-Crime and Peace and Order Forum in Pangasinan.
“You cannot bar local candidates from entering and organizing in your local communities,” said Diño. He then called for local elected officials to recall the role they are meant to fulfill in their communities, citing Section 389 (Duties and Functions of Barangay Officials) of RA No. 7160, or the Local Government Code. Barangay officials are mandated to serve in a way that promotes the general welfare of their community, as well as enforce all laws and regulations.
Diño continued, saying that he would not hesitate to suspend or remove from office any barangay captains or officials who act in ways that favor their personal interests over the barangay’s wellbeing. An example of this sort of behavior would be refusing assistance from national or provincial government offices on the basis of political alignment.
“You (barangay captains and officials) cannot prevent the delivery of goods and services coming from the national and provincial government(s) in your respective communities because of personal political considerations. All I need is a formal written complaint from your constituents. I will ask the barangay captain concerned to explain to me within 72 hours why he or she refused to accept assistance from the national or local government offices,” he said.
Diño’s statement was in response to recently emerging reports of certain barangay officials refusing assistance from national and provincial agencies, sacrificing possible benefits for their community for the sake of currying political favor or out of a feeling of being beholden to their governor, congressmen, or mayors. Diño reiterated that barangay officials, as persons in authority, are to serve their constituents.
Diño also threatened to suspend immediately any barangay captains who fail to establish functional Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (BADAC), submit an inventory of barangay office equipment, and liquidate funds.
The DILG official also added that the agency will be strengthening its capabilities to gather and disseminate information through the establishment of barangay intelligence and information offices. He further urged barangay officials to protect their environment.
“You are the front-liners in the delivery of government services in your communities. The DILG will establish barangay councils for the protection of our natural resources,” Diño said.
Lastly, Diño called upon barangay execs to advocate for the passage of the MAgna Carta for Barangay Officials, a long-overdue measure first proposed by then-senator Nene Pimentel during the 14th Congress.
The proposed bill would see all barangay officials receive fixed salaries and benefits from the national government. To illustrate, should the measure be passed into law, all Punong Barangays will now receive a fixed salary equivalent to that of a regular Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal) council member or approximately PHP40,000; the Barangay Kagawads will receive 80 percent or PHP40,000; SK chairpersons will receive 75 percent or PHP35,000 including, but not limited to, medical benefits and insurance.