The Commission on Elections (Comelec) came out with two significant issuances barring civil servants and barangay officials from being actively involved in the upcoming political exercise on May 9, 2016 to allow the country’s electorate free will on their choice for who will lead the country and their localities for the next term of national and local officials. Many people were caught by surprise with the recent rulings of the poll body on the matter because for the past several elections after the 1987 Constitution, numerous civil servants and barangay officials had been actively involved and open campaigning for their chosen candidates in their respective areas of jurisdiction
The practice of partisan politics among barangay officials and civil servants holding c career positions has been evident through numerous elections. Some political camps believe that because they are the duly elected barangay officials, they can influence their constituents to vote for them, thus, some quarters heavily invest on barangay officials to make them win the elections. On the other hand, a few politician camps believe that barangay officials can do something for their success in politics, thus, they prefer to tap purok leaders or even heads of influential families as their leaders in a certain barangay once barangay officials were already compromised by their rivals.
Furthermore, some politicians do not trust barangay officials because they consider them as jokers considering that they commit the votes of their constituents for all politicians who visit and give due respect to them. Like what religious leaders have been doing in previous elections, barangay officials had either been making true or false commitments to their benefactors that earned them the ire of those who relied on them to deliver the votes for their successful political careers. Barangay officials are obviously tempted to take the lucrative offers of politicians because of the meager honoraria that they receive from the government which is an offshoot of the very low income being generated in their respective places.
While the Local Government Code of the Philippines provides that punong barangays. Barangay kagawads, secretaries, treasurers and other mandatory employees receive salaries, almost 90 percent of the country’s over 42,000 barangays cannot afford to give such descent compensation to them because of low internal revenue allotment and internally generated taxes. During elections, barangay officials, especially the ones with great influence of their constituents because off fear or favor, are the ones gaining from the resources being downloaded by aspiring national and local officials while their ordinary constituents seem to be the ones to get the shorter end of the deal.
We believe it is not yet too late for the poll body to institute such urgent reforms while we are on the middle of the campaign trail. The timing of the Comelec ruling is just right considering that the 45-day campaign period for the local elective positions just started and it is the aspirants for the local elective posts who are the ones usually tapping barangay officials to be their leaders in the different villages within their territorial jurisdiction. It is time for barangay officials to stop making business out of the conduct of elections but it should be their role to continue informing and educating their constituents on the real traits of a good local leader. The electorate should always be careful of what their barangay officials will say during the political season because it will be surely tainted with politics and aligned for the welfare of those who have commissioned them to advance their own personal and political interests. Very few barangay officials in our city are to be trusted because they know how to decline juicy offers and remain neutral to allow their constituents to decide for themselves on whom to vote come judgement day. It is not bad for barangay officials to attend political gatherings in their areas of jurisdiction because they are the persons in authority in their places but to use their influence of business opportunities like during the elections among others would be a totally different story.
The electorates are happy because they can now independently judge the politicians by themselves as part of the chain of political corruption has been removed through the recent rulings of the Comelec and the Civil Service Commission (CSC). WE certainly believe that barangay officials and civil servants should always be apolitical at all times irregardless of whether or not those aspiring for higher elective positions have done them favors for them to return the compliment. People should remember that politicians come and go but government is still there to stay to look after their welfare.
The results of the May 9, 2016 general and automated elections will surely be a different thing because of the standing orders barring barangay officials and civil servants from being actively involved in politics. It will now be the people watching the moves of their barangay officials so that they will report their partisan acts for them to be penalized. It is now the people that will be empowered to invoke their rights for the upliftment of our country into a third world minus too much politicking that cascades to the grassroots level.