REPUBLIC Act 7160, also known as the Local Government Code of 1991, expressly provides for the creation and role of a barangay.
There are actually three important sections of the Local Government Code that deals with the barangay. Sections 385 and 386 deals with the manner of creating a barangay as well as the necessary requisites for its creation, and so we find that a barangay may be created out of a contiguous (sharing a common border) territory which must at least have a certified population of at least two thousand inhabitants in cities and municipalities except in highly urbanized cities, such as in the City of Baguio, where the needed population to create a barangay is at least five thousand inhabitants. A provision is also added in the manner of creating a barangay applying the population requirement; the creation of such a barangay shall not reduce the population of the original barangay or barangays to less than the minimum requirement prescribed by the law. Another important factor in the creation of a barangay is that it (barangay) may be created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered only through a law approved by Congress or by an ordinance of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan or Sangguniang Panlungsod, and subject to an approval by a majority of votes cast in a plebiscite conducted by COMELEC involving the local government units directly affected and within the period of time determined by the law or ordinance creating the barangay.
Now as to the role of the Barangay Section 384 of the Local Government Code, it is very clear in stating that “as the basic political unit, the Barangay serves as the primary planning and implementing unit of government policies, plans, programs, projects and activities in the community, and as a forum wherein the collective views of the people may be expressed, crystallized and considered, and where disputes may be amicably settled.
That particular section of the local code tells us that when it concerns the community, it is actually the barangay that acts as the planner and implementer of policies, plans, programs, projects and activities.
Barangay officials therefore, as mandated by the Local Government Code must not only know how to implement government policies, plans, programs, projects and activities in the community but must also know how to plan for them. That is why there is also a provision in the local code which talks about local development councils where barangay officials are an essential component. In Section 109 of R.A. 7160 we find that the Barangay Development Council exercises several functions namely: 1) Mobilize people’s participation in local development efforts, 2) Prepare barangay development plans based on local requirements, 3) Monitor and evaluate the implementation of national or local programs and projects, and 4) Perform such other functions as may be provided by law or competent authority.
All of the above provisions of the Local Government Code have to do with the barangay and because the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections is nearly upon us it is vital that the next set of barangay officials have a clear understanding of what their role in the community will be and what will be expected of them, not only as politicians, because that is what they are, but ultimately as leaders whom their constituents will look up to.
There is actually no dearth of potential leaders in the community, especially here in the city of Baguio, it is only a matter of choosing those that really possess the qualities needed to be an excellent leader and those that exemplify what a public servant should be in the service of the community. To those who will be voting for the next set of barangay leaders, here are some pointers that you may or may not consider:
- Don’t vote for barangay officials who you know are too busy with their other chosen professions or work. Given the heavy workload of barangay officials these days, they might fall short of your expectations.
- Don’t vote for barangay officials whom you know are only interested in clinging to their positions or are only using their barangay position as a jumping board for some other lofty political ambition.
- Don’t vote for barangay officials whom you know are quick to complain about their job as a public servant in the community but are eager to be voted again once election comes around.
- Don’t vote for barangay officials whom you know are only interested in the power that the position will bring and think nothing about serving from the heart for those who voted them into office.
- And finally, vote into office those barangay officials whom you know are neither of all those above, or who are opposite of those described above, and are running for office with the willingness and commitment to sacrifice time, effort and resources to lead the community as a true public servant.