Vice Gov. Eliordo Ogena said the 12-member provincial board has agreed to prioritize the immediate passage of the proposed Purok Empowerment Ordinance, which aims to institutionalize the bayanihan system and volunteerism in local governance.
"Our puroks have been assuming various functions for many years now but there's still no legal basis that govern them. So we're looking at empowering these puroks to strengthen their operations and systems," said Ogena, who authored the proposed ordinance.
He stressed that when the puroks are empowered, it will strengthen the democratization of grassroots politics and the barangay system of governance.
But he clarified that the proposed measure will only complement and supplement the operation of the barangays and not compete with them.
He said an important feature of the proposed ordinance is the institutionalization of the disciplinary jurisdiction of the barangay chair over the puroks, which so far does not exist.
To help avoid possible abuses by barangay chairs on the operations of the puroks, the vice governor said his proposal sets a fixed term for the purok leaders.
"A fixed term of office will be their protection from these abuses and they can only be removed through grounds stipulated under the ordinance," he said.
Ogena said such provision will also give the purok leaders a sense of dignity since their services are primarily considered as voluntary.
He said they are initially considering providing honoraria to the purok leaders subject to the results of their upcoming local consultations.
"The basic consideration of this proposal is really to improve our system of governance here in South Cotabato. I believe that if we improve our governance, we will be able deliver our basic services better," he added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)