THE WORM’S EYEVIEW: How Progressive is Your Barangay? Part II

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 27 Feb) – Every community needs to capitalize on its assets and opportunities and out its revenues to better use. As pointed out by Hernando de Soto, the internationally respected economist, there’s capital in the villages or barangays—even in its poorest slums. Not just millions but billions that are not factored by the top-level planners and economists.

A typical barangay’s internal revenue allotment (IRA), plus other income, runs into millions—substantial amounts for a small jurisdiction. It includes their 25% share of real property taxes collected from buildings, real estate, and homeowners. (Imagine the billions collected from metropolitan centers and their barangays’ shares!)

Barangays also get 35% of collections from extractors of “national wealth” such as quarrying, forestry, and mining. Then there’s their 50% share of the community tax collected from their residents. On top of these, they have revenues from fees paid for permits, licenses, and the like. And of course, they also avail of pork barrel grants from higher officials.

Overall, IRA earnings alone amount to over P50 billion yearly. Meaning, the barangays aren’t really poor, contrary to general impression. But where do all the funds go? Do the barangay constituents know?

There’s a problem about the governing style of the officials. They handle the money as if it were an allowance to spend as they please rather than as capital for investing in local development. They’re supposed to manage it productively so it will grow and produce benefits for everyone.

But the barangay’s residents do not meet as a community to define or determine priorities that ought to be funded or assisted. Only the poor and less educated generally attend meetings and assemblies. So the officials simply decide which sectors will receive benefits.

(Manny is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific; secretary-general, Southeast Asia Publishers Association; director, Development Academy of Philippines; and vice chair, Local Government Academy. He is chairman/national convenor, Gising Barangay Movement Inc.