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Taking care of our barangay officials

On May 14, we chose the new set of leaders in our respective communities through the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections. The last barangay elections was conducted on October 28, 2013 and the last SK elections, on Oct. 25, 2010. It took five years for the barangay and eight years for the SK to have a new set of elected officials over 42,000 barangays nationwide.

President Duterte signed Republic Act 10923 that postponed the elections from October 31, 2016 to October 23, 2017. This suspension of the Barangay and SK elections was supported by the President because he was concerned of the possible use of drug money in the campaign activities. The elections was again postponed to May 14, 2018, by virtue of Republic Act No. 10952. On March 19 of this year, the House, voted to postpone the May 2018 elections to October 2018. However, the third postponement did not receive support from the Senate.

I congratulate the newly elected Barangay and SK officials. They must understand that they have a big role to play in the advancement of their communities. Let this be a fresh start in cleaning up and improving our country, starting from the most basic unit of our government.

The Local Government Code of 1991 provides that the barangay officials receive a monetary compensation consists of a basic honorarium of P1000 per month for Barangay Chairman and Php 600 for the Barangay Councilors or “Kagawad”, and a Christmas bonus worth at least Php 1000. Other benefits include insurance coverage, medical care and free hospitalization in government hospitals, and free tuition in public schools (of the Barangay Chairman and two legitimate dependent children during their term of office).

Given their scope of work, I feel that what the barangay officials are receiving is a mere pittance compared to the compensation and benefits of other local government officials.

In my desire to give the officials in the barangay level what they truly deserve, I re-filed House Bill No. 598 in June 2016. This bill seeks to amend the current Local Government Code, wherein 1 percent shall be added to the share of the local government in the national internal revenue taxes, increasing it to 41 percent from 40 percent. The additional 1percent shall be added to a “special account solely dedicated to the barangay retirement fund for the retirement pay of barangay officials, whether elected or appointed, including barangay tanods, health workers, day care workers, and members of the lupon tagapamayapa”. The lump sum retirement pay shall be equivalent to one year honorarium, not exceeding P100,000, provided that the retiree is 60 years old and has rendered a minimum of nine years in service at the time of retirement.

We consider our barangay workers as the frontliners of government service. They are on-call, most especially in times of need, making sure that they deliver the basic social services to the members of their respective communities. These officials respond to their calling, are dedicated to serve the public, and form the foundation upon which every local government unit rests. They should be rightfully regarded as career professionals. We entrust upon all the barangay officials the welfare of the people in our communities. Let us make sure that their compensation reflects their selfless service.

Topics: Barangay election , Sangguniang Kabataan , Rodrigo Duterte , Opinion , Politics
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