Manny Valdehuesa .
NOW that the dust of barangay election campaigns has settled more or less, it helps to view things in the community from a new angle, even from the viewpoint of passersby or transients.
Time now to ask: are there issues that need the attention of the newly-elected officials—events or operations that should be taking place?
How about the environment: is it tended to, well maintained, or made attractive for all concerned? Are environment issues being considered, like the need for recycling waste in households and the community in general?
As for the people, are their homes and residential compounds in compliance with ordinances—their sidewalks clean, unobstructed, free of illegal structures, convenient for passersby?
It would help also to consider that, since this is the transitional phase of the officials’ new term of office, the barangay may need a make-over to improve its appearance and atmosphere.
Is there a need to improve local services? What to do to avoid the bad habits of the past? How to establish an atmosphere conducive to productivity and progress?
Can a joint effort—citizens and government together—be undertaken to review expectations and promises made during their campaign?
The barangay government is the unit closest to every Filipino. Its efficiency and services determine the atmosphere or environment in the neighborhoods as well as everyone’s quality of life.
Caring for the community is every citizen’s concern. Next to one’s personal welfare—and that of one’s family’s—the wellbeing of the immediate community is vital to society and to the republic.
Caring for the community is important in the same way that family members must look after conditions in their household, being a part of it. Community members must secure their barangay’s premises and protect its environment.
In matters concerning the general welfare or the common good, petty politics should be avoided. There should be no gridlock, no dilatory tactics employed by any faction. Legislative processes should go on. Governing the immediate community should be non-partisan. Harmony and consensus should prevail.
Playing politics with issues in the community should be repudiated. The management of its funds and other assets must accord with established policies and regulations. None of it should be used for patronage or payola.
There must be a serious effort to achieve the goals and ideals of the community, especially what the law mandates for their attainment.
Republic Act 7160 (the 1991 Local Government Code) defines the barangay’s role as “the basic political unit…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.”
Thus, there’s a lot of planning and implementing to do, for both officials and constituents. The community—its Barangay Assembly—must fulfill its role as the forum wherein the collective views of the people are expressed, crystallized, and considered.
Not least, the community through its Lupon Ng Tagapamayapa should actively pursue the task of settling local disputes; it is the peacemaking mission of the barangay.
All of these tasks and the rest of the purposes for which the barangay was established need to be vigorously pursued.
Aiming to do so, and actually doing so, is the paramount duty of every official and citizen of the community.
Are there citizens in the barangay who care to know these and care enough to do something about getting them attended to?
One would hope so.
(Manny Valdehuesa Jr. is a former Unesco regional director for Asia-Pacific; secretary-general, Southeast Asia Publishers Association; director, development academy of Philippines; member, Philippine Mission to the UN; vice chair, Local Government Academy; member, government peace panel during the administration of Corazon Aquino; awardee, PPI-Unicef outstanding columnist. An author of books on governance, he is chairman/convenor of Gising Barangay Movement Inc.. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)