“Councilor”

Foreign influence upon our country cannot be denied. Our practices, religion, system of government, and even our names, Spanish and American influence can be easily pointed out. We have adopted American names just like John, Mark, or Maria and Spanish names like Juan, Marcos and Maria. Our food, fashion, music, celebrations, and others have been obviously adopted or influenced by foreigners. Necessarily, our system of government and legal system were also largely influenced and patterned from foreign system if not copied entirely. Notable indigenous systems that were integrated in our government and legal system are the barangay government and the barangay justice system. The “chapsuey” nature of our government and legal system can also be seen in the name of different officials. Lawyers are addressed as “Attorney” but our top government lawyer is called “Solicitor General”. In the United States, he is called “Attorney General”. The term “solicitor” is used in the United Kingdom and its former colonies.

When the Local Government Code was enacted in 1991, it instituted a system which, although not pure, can be considered “Filipino” style of local government. As has been said, the barangay government and the katarungang pambarangay which are uniquely Filipino were instituted. Some names of the officials and offices were “Tagalised”. The barangay captain is now called “Punong Barangay” and the members of the barangay council are called “kagawad”. The municipal council is now also called “Sangguniang Bayan” and the provincial board is not called “Sangguniang Panalalawigan”. The Local Government Code no longer uses the term “council” or “councilor”. Therefore, officially all councils should be called “sanggunian” and the members shall be called “sangguniang barangay/bayan/panlalawigan/panlungsod member” for consistency and it is the term used by the Local Government Code.

It has been observed that the term “councilor” is being interchangeably used with “sangguniang bayan member”. For some, “kagawad” is used to refer to sangguniang barangay members while councilor is used for “sangguniang bayan members”. In fact, the Philippine Councilors League still uses the term “councilor” and also in official communications. For our municipality, we have integrated in our Internal Rules of Procedure a section stating that the members of the Sanggunian should be referred to and publicly addressed as: “Sangguniang Bayan Member”, “SB Member” or “Member of the Sangguniang Bayan”.

It might sound so trivial, but the term “councilor” should be rendered obsolete with the adoption of a new term by the Local Government Code which by the way is already 27 years old! Pursuant to the law, government officials, employees, and the public should use the term “sangguniang barangay/bayan/panlalawigan/panlungsod member” in referring or addressing said officials. As someone said: addressing a person with his proper name is a sign of respect. Said respect is not just for the official personally but to the position he occupies and all the individuals who put him/her there.

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