The forthcoming Barangay Election on October 29 will show-case how genuinely alive is our democracy. On that day the country, composed of 41,800 barangays, will be choosing their barangay officials. All Filipino citizens are members of a barangay. We encourage those of voting age to come to the polling places to vote for their barangay officials.
It is good to be reminded that according to the Omnibus Election Code (Art. VI, Sec. 38) barangay elections shall be non-partisan, i.e. no political party, organization or group shall intervene in the nomination and election of any candidate. Unfortunately, there are many barangays which have fallen under the control of political parties or politicians. As a result they are more in the service of some politicians or political party than the common good of the barangay.
There is a great need for education and social awareness of how the barangay, this smallest political unit of government, functions. We hope that what the Local Government Code of 1991 describes as the “Role of the Barangay” will be explained to the barangay members in order that they may genuinely and consciously participate in the functions of their barangay. The law states: “Role of the Barangay as the basic political unit: the barangay serves as the primary 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.” (Sec. 384)
All members of the churches, parishes, municipalities, Basic Ecclesial Communities are also members of the barangay. If they are taking interest in how their churches or parishes operate, similarly they should be interested in what is going on in their barangay with respect to the common good. As parishioners, they need to be aware of the laws of the church. As barangay members they are legally empowered to get involved in the common affairs of their barangay.
There are some 2000 Parishes all over the country. These Parishes also include most of the 41,800 barangays. In fact in many parishes, barangay officials are also officials or members of Barangay Parish Pastoral Councils. In some cases, the barangays are further divided into smaller units called Basic Ecclesial Communities.
The barangay activities offer great and many opportunities not only for social, political and economic interaction; they are also practical venues for faith interaction and sharing and inter-religious dialogue. In these non-partisan smallest political units of government, as happens in many Parishes and Municipalities, the church and the state can wonderfully interact and cooperate for the common good in the spirit of social co-responsibility.
Come October 29 may our Barangay Election be freed from the violence and corrupt practices that happen during local and national elections. May our Barangay Election produce the leaders that our civil society need for the common good. With the correct social conscience and sensitivity, the barangay members can make this happen.
Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo
October 25, 2007