CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 26 March) – Just a few more days and it’ll be Saturday, March 29 – the day synchronized Barangay Assembly meetings will take place nationwide.
Big deal, some may say; or, SO WHAT?… And who can blame them?
For example, see if P-Noy will even bother to look in on the Assembly of the barangay where Malacañang sits in Manila’s San Miguel district? It matters if he doesn’t.
In Quezon City, will Mar Roxas or his Mom Lady Judy or his spouse Korina attend in Cubao? How about the Binays in Barangay San Antonio in Makati City? Will they participate in this rite of citizenship in one’s community? Find out.
Attendance or absence is a good test of sincerity, intention, or focus in public service. Do they really believe in good governance (which must start in one’s community)? How about the importance of people’s participation? How about empowering people?
They’re supposed to set a good example, as model citizens!
While you’re at it, find out also if the “honorable” senators and congressmen will attend their village assembly as well as the mayor, vice mayor, and councilors.
They’re not exactly famous for attending this rubric of democracy at the grassroots, which assures stability at the base of our republic.
If this assembly is not worth their attention and participation, there might be an issue of hypocrisy or insincerity against them.
Trapos typically view this event as just a good campaign gimmick to attract the votes of the hoi polloi, the masses, the common tao – which of course is like saying, let’s get the votes, but to hell with citizen participation or good governance!
Let’s Try Anyway
Nevertheless, let’s you and me and every other Filipino just go and do the right thing. We’re the sovereign citizens; they’re our servants!
Meanwhile, do check if the notice and agenda for the Saturday Assembly has arrived as of this day.
If not, your barangay government is already in violation of the Local Government Code which states that NO MEETING OF THE BARANGAY ASSEMBLY SHALL TAKE PLACE UNLESS A WRITTEN NOTICE IS GIVEN ONE (1) WEEK PRIOR TO THE MEETING…(Section 397, R.A. 7160).
If the Assembly takes place on Saturday anyway, you have every right to raise this and other issues and inform them that such lapses or non-compliance will cause you and your neighbors to lose confidence in them.
Loss of confidence is sufficient ground for Recall – removing them from office and replaced as per Sections 69-75 of R.A. 7160.
You may even chide them for being readily compliant to a directive from above (assembling at DILG’s behest) but remiss in their duty below – namely, fulfill local expectations as well as comply with the law.
In fact, it would be a good occasion to check on official conduct. Ascertaining the wishes and expectations of the constituency is one of the first tasks of local administration, especially for a new team.
Have consultations with the community taken place to define or identify local problems and priorities? Is the Barangay Development Council duly constituted and at work preparing the comprehensive multisectoral development plan?
If not, there’s also failure of duty here. What have they been doing since taking office and getting paid after the October elections?
Or can it be that both the officials and the constituents don’t really care and haven’t bothered to scan or prioritize the community’s needs?
If autonomy or self-governance is of no interest to your community, it would be a very bad sign. It will reflect badly on you and your neighbors. It will brand your community as an unconcerned unit of the republic with dubious loyalty to its wellbeing.
You will then appear as an NPA: a Non-Performing Asset – a community without civic sense, a polity that lacks patriotism, a barangay shadowed by unreliability, uncaring, not trustworthy, with just a trivial attitude to duty.
Woe to you and your neighbors then, for you will neither be a model nor an inspiration to our society!
[Manny is, among others, former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific; secretary-general, Southeast Asian Publishers Association; director, Development Academy of Philippines; vice chair, Local Government Academy; member, Philippine Mission to United Nations; Cory Government’s Peace Negotiator; and PPI-UNICEF awardee for outstanding columnist. email@example.com]