An engineer, lawyer, and retired politician chatted over coffee, discussing the barangay government structure, created by former President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.
The topic was the subject of a column I wrote in August of last year, where it was noted, “The barangay concept was an idea of the Marcos regime as a way to control people.” It is through the control of barangay officials that leaves politicians with the responsibility of winning the favor of barangay leadership, who will convince their constituents to vote for them – for those unaware, this why there are barangays.
Marcos was a brilliant leader and if not for his inner circle, along with a spouse who abused the powers of her husband, the strongman could have gone a long way had he not fallen ill, said the engineer.
The lawyer added, it was Marcos’ daughter Imee who created and led the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) in order to capture the youth vote, in order to convince their parents to support Marcos.
In another column focusing on the same subject in May of last year, it was pointed out, “It was a strategy to strengthen political powers, not to serve constituents.”
Today, it is more expensive to be an elected official since many barangay leaders will not assist a candidate without financial support – resulting in politicians being afraid of barangay officials, said the retired politician.
He added, even after they are elected, officials are still giving in to demands by barangay leaders, out of fear of losing the next election.
The lawyer noted, there are no concrete advantages to keeping the barangay structure in place, saying, it would be better if the mayor just handled the city and appointed deputies to various locations across the town.
In the August column, it was pointed out, “Barangays have nothing to show as their achievements – we have dirty environment, foul-smelling communities, and they show disregard for health and hygiene, among other things.”
The engineer summed it up, life was better before the barangay came to existence.
Many barangay officials are retired and are there for extra income, with the expectation of “blessings” from candidates, said the lawyer. The comment echoed sentiment from the May column, where it said, “Some individuals who run for office are merely looking for a source of income.”
The politician added, barangay officials have admitted they are unhappy with the proposed postponement of elections because they would lose money, considering success at the ballot box means fulfilling the demands of barangay officials.
The lawyer suggested repealing the Constitution and removing the barangay portion, calling it “a money-making venture;” pointing out many officials are not qualified, which results in unsatisfactory services.
The lawyer went on to say the postponement would also be due to drug money proliferating among barangay residents. Barangay officials will have too much money and winning elected officials will be obligated to pay back their financiers, preventing them from being able to enforce policies against illegal drugs and illegal gambling.
Barangay officials are too focused on money – that’s the name of the game, surmised the politician.
That is the sad life in the country, he added.
This column greets Mayor Marvin Malacon, Mayor Neil Lizares, Mayor Bing Leonardia, Congressman Bayani Fernando, Speaker Bebot Alvarez, Congressman Greg Gasataya, Danny Dangcalan, Renato Novero, Richard Oquendo, Roland Catada Ramos, and Lance Gokongwei./WDJ