Cesar Gorillo .
THE barangay elections is not just that important. It is the life blood of the smallest set of government of the Republic of the Philippines.
Consider my barangay known as Barangay Don Paulino in Dapa, Surigao del Norte. Even before I was born, that barangay site was already donated by the late Fulgencio Ruaya, son of Don Paulino Ruaya for which our barrio got its name. This is a part of their coconut land right beside the seashore. The donor later ran as mayor of Dapa and won. His son took over the management of their property and when he died, another took over and is now the one managing the whole area.
Allegedly, there was a deed of donation, but a series of imbecile barangay chairpersons took over the barrio and none of them even gave a hoot as to the status of all the residential lots occupied by the barrio people. Technically, the whole barrio is still in the hands of these people because there has never been a transfer of any lot to the occupants because the deed of donation was never worked out. Even my own big house has no residential tax declaration on the lot in which my house stands.
As a result of this very anomalous situation, the one managing the whole coconut area, including their relatives, allegedly had a grand time terrorizing lot owners who were not for their favored candidate. And a powerful politician in the town is their relative, and the the politician’s candidates were endorsed by them, and those who did not vote were warned, “No vote, ibot.” And many houses have been pulled out after they were found out to have voted for the candidates who were not their choice.
Then a candidate came and vowed to work on the execution of the alleged deed of donation, if ever this exists, so that the present lot owners can have their own tax declarations or even titles on the lots on which their houses stand. Many of the occupants have made second payments because according to the lot records of the owners, there was no deed of sale in their favor. The truth is that these lot owners inherited the ownership of the lots from their grandparents who had long died and due to series of typhoons, transfers of residences and other causes, the records have been lost thus making them virtual squatters in the area and they had to pay upon demand or else face instant eviction.
This candidate explained to my barrio mates the need to vote for her because she only had that kind of program. And I fully agreed with her. But the problem was that the present barangay chairman had the blessings of the town mayor who has the same family name and close relative of the landowner. Thus, for the last two terms that he held the position, the barangay chairman never, for even an inch, moved to solve this very important lot ownership problem. Besides, the DSWD, through the Kalahi program, made our barrio the recipient of the seawall and road-concreting project, and credit went to the incumbent barangay chairman.
Before Monday’s elections, the problem was the big chance that the incumbent would win and the deed of donation won’t be enforced.
That was the importance of the barangay elections to me. I needed the challenger to win because she vowed to work on the transfer of our lots, and I knew she can do it because she has the connections, experience, intellect, and guts to do it. To me, the election outcome was very critical because my bet’s loss would result in a nightmare of tremendous consequences; but her election victory would be a lifeblood of all the residents of my barrio.
It was an election for the lowest set of government in our republic, but the outcome affects the lives and future of the barangay residents for which the barangay chairman governs.