The small enterprises within our barangay, holes in the wall of their houses, sidewalk vendors, cart vendors and those who have claimed entire sidewalks and parts of the street for their business location have our baranggay officials to thank for. They are only assessed P10 a day for doing business. In our neighboring barangays, the charges run from P50 a day-upwards.
I was talking to a small karenderia operator and she was complaining that P60 a day is much too much. Their profit margin is not really much considering the cost of ingredients is seasonal and always on the high side. And she couldn’t just raise the prices of her viands because of stiff competition.
Car owners are also assessed a fee (paid daily or monthly or quarterly) for parking at night along our streets. Every time you need some paperwork from the barangay such as baranggay clearances and certifications, you need to pay up.
For all discussions, these collections could be legal. But . . .
First, isn’t the barangay there to abide by the principles and practices of good governance that help build and nurture the residents of the community.
Second, granting that such collections are legal, they still need to issue receipts. Otherwise, these collections could be called “kotong” and, therefore, illegal.
Third, in Baranggay 596, Zone 59, Manila, the reason they give for such collection is to buy coffee and others for the barangay tanod who sit in watch to protect our barangay. Who says? Aren’t tanods also paid some stipend for their services?
Fourth, our barangay is rich! It is entitled to a share from the following revenues:
• Real property tax (RPT) collections of Manila;
• Internal revenue collections (also known as Internal Revenue Allotment);
• The development and utilization of the national wealth; and,
• Tobacco excise tax pursuant to RA No. 7171.
So how come our barangay collects “tong” from those small enterprises in our community for the reason of protecting them? What has happened to our barangay treasures?
During the incumbency as barangay chairman of my late brother Jimmy, he never collected such “tongs.” All services rendered by the barangay officials, including tanods, are for free. And all blessings coming to our barangay, such as Christmas giveaways from politicians and private donors, are for everybody regardless of who you voted for. No such things as “Kakampi at hindi kakampi.” (On our side or not)
Incidentally, my chairman (who is jobless with a housewife and four children) has a new big motorbike. The other day, he was getting out of our street, he tarried and talked to somebody and tarried some more maybe waiting for me to enter my gate. I also waited for him to pass by. I complimented him, “Wow, bagong motor, ah.” (New motorbike). He glowered at me and in a very angry voice said, “Tigilan mo na ako at baka hindi ako makapagpigil. (Stop talking about my bike or I might not be able to control myself.) And glowered some more, did a jackrabbit start and zoomed out.
Hmmm, if i see him riding in tandem with his cohort, I must take cover. That is a very direct threat.
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