EXCEPT for a few who live in highly urbanized cities and municipalities, most barangay officials receive a measly P3,000 monthly honorarium for their services. Other barangay workers such as watchmen are lucky if they get an “allowance” of P500.
The compensation is pitifully low because only 1.8 percent, or 754 of the country’s 42,028 villages are “rich” in terms of their internal revenue allotment (IRA) share from the national government, according to Director Leocadio Trovela of the Department of the Interior and Local Government-National Barangay Operations Center (DILG-NBOC).
“I think I’m the only one who remains positive about the future of our barangay. I believe that despite the criticisms hurled against the system, marami pa rin ang tumatakbo dahil sa malasakit. Wala naman talagang pera sa barangay kung titingnan [many still run due to their adherence to service. There’s no money in the barangay]. Except for less than two percent that we can consider rich,” Trovela told The Manila Times.
The 754 wealthy villages are those that receive an annual IRA share of P5 million to a whopping P40 million or more. Trovela said only six villages have IRA shares of more than P40 million.
He said, however, that while Barangay Bel-Air in Makati City receives quite a small amount of IRA, it is the richest.
“We are continuously monitoring but as of this time, Bel-Air is on top of our list. We have to understand that Bel-Air and other posh villages in Metro Manila get very low IRA but their Real Property Tax (RPT) shares are quite huge,” Trovela said.
Trovela noted that 17,873 villages have IRA shares of not more than P1 million while 23,267, or more than half, have IRA shares of not more than P5 million.
“Imagine P5 million for an entire year? IRA is dependent on population. The more people you have, the higher you get. But they have an automatic share also which discounts population,” he said.
According to Trovela, 134 villages do not get any share from the IRA because they were created by local governments and not by Congress.
“They have zero IRA allotment but they source their budget from the local governments that created them. So they still operate,” he said.
DILG-NBOC data indicated that for this year, Barangay 176 in Caloocan City has the highest IRA share at P89.7 million, followed by Barangay Commonwealth in Quezon City with P68.8 million.
Besides the two, the top 20 villages with the biggest IRA are Batasan Hills, P55.7 million; Pinagbuhatan in Pasig City, P46.3 million; Payatas, P44.1 million; San Jose in Rodriguez town, P40.3 million; Poblacion in Muntinlupa, P38.3 million; Holy Spirit in QC, P37.68 million; Bgy. 178 in Caloocan, P36.1 million; San Juan in Cainta, Rizal, P35.7 million; San Andres also in Cainta, P34.7 million; Pasong Putik in Quezon City, P34 milion; San Juan in Taytay, P33.3 million; Hen. T. De Leon in Valenzuela City, P33.2 million; San Jose in Antipolo City, P32.8 million; Addition Hills in Mandaluyong City, P32.3 million; Pasong Tamo in Quezon City, P32 million; Tandang Sora also in QC, P31.7 million; Cupang in Antipolo, P31.4 million; and B.F. Homes in Paranaque City, P31.1 million.
Sources of income
Besides IRA and RPT shares, barangay councils are authorized to generate income from taxes on stores or retailers with fixed business establishments and gross sales of P50,000 in cities and P30,000 or less in towns in the preceding year at the rate of one percent of gross sales.
They are also authorized to exact fees and charges for the use of barangay facilities and from barangay clearance fees. Likewise, they are allowed to collect community taxes and fees from commercial breeding of fighting cocks and operation of cockpits; fees from recreation facilities with admission fees; fines not exceeding P1,000 for violations of certain ordinances; and fess from mining or quarrying operations, among others.
In the case of provinces, 25 percent of the proceeds from RPT collections shall accrue to the barangay where the property is located while in cities within Metro Manila, 30 percent of the proceeds shall be distributed among the component villages within the city where the property is located under this sharing scheme: 50 percent to the barangay where the property is located and 50 percent to all component barangays in the city or municipality.
A barangay is entitled to 35 percent of the 40 percent share of the national wealth utilization of a province.
They get 20 percent of the IRA which is divided among each of the 42,028 villages based on the following formula: population, 60 percent; equal sharing, 40 percent.
‘Matino at mahusay’
According to Trovela, the barangay system is the most important aspect of governance, since local officials deal directly with the people.
“The barangay is the people’s direct access to government. It symbolizes popular participation in government programs and encourages community empowerment. We cannot mobilize support to the national government without the barangay. The process of consultations begin with them before any policy is enforced,” he explained.
He said the DILG through the NBOC and the Local Government Academy (LGA) in Pasig City has been assisting new local leaders through various seminars and training. Because most elected officials are not fully aware of their functions and responsibilities, the department has launched a massive advocacy campaign dubbed “M2” or “matino at mahusay (sensible and efficient).”
“This is a deliberate, massive national advocacy campaign to educate voters. It is not enough that a candidate is matino. He should also be mahusay. On the other hand, he cannot just be mahusay. Dapat matino at mahusay,” Trovela said.
Former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., the father of the Local Government Code, admitted that many barangay officials are unfit for the job for several reasons, including lack of educational qualifications.
But Pimentel said any move to standardize the qualifications for barangay candidates would be illegal.
“You see even in the Constitution, the requirement set for a presidential candidate besides age is that he should be able to read and write. That simple. So how can we set stricter requirements for local officials? It is one of the things why there is a need to change some provisions in the Charter,” Pimentel told The Manila Times.
Trovela could not agree more. He said that during discussions prior to the launching of the “matino at mahusay” campaign, they did not touch the issue on candidates’ qualifications.
“Hindi namin ginalaw. We cannot change what’s written in the Constitution,” he pointed out.
Pimentel and Trovela agreed that barangay councils are not immune to graft and corruption. In fact, several cases are pending before the DILG where local officials are charged with graft. In some cases, charges are filed with the Office of the Ombudsman.
“Like Congress and in any other government agencies, there is graft and corruption in the barangay level. But we cannot generalize and say that all of them are corrupt. There are many which are not and it would be unfair to them,” Pimentel said.
For Trovela, corruption persists mostly in “rich” barangays because officials are exposed to huge amounts of funds either through IRA or locally generated income.
“I would assume that if there is corruption, it is confined mostly among the wealthy barangays, in the less than 2 percent that are ‘rich.’ I sometimes feel for those in poor and small barangays whose officials are accused of corruption. Look, if they only have P1 million budget in a year, it would be very easy to determine if funds are missing. In terms of accounting, they cannot escape audit that easy,” the DILG official said.
Last August, The Times ran a story entitled “Graft: Bel-Air Style” which focused on the string of criminal and administrative charges filed against officials of Barangay Bel-Air, a wealthy enclave in Makati’s upscale district.
Bel-Air officials were charged for allegedly favoring a private food supplier whose registered owners are close relatives of the incumbent village chief, Constancia “Nene” Lichauco.
Based on documents obtained by The Manila Times, incumbent and former officials of Bel-Air had been the subject of an investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman.
Besides Lichauco, councilor Conchita Caluag and Leonila Querijero, budget chief of the University of Makati City, were even recommended for a six-month suspension without pay by the Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office (FIO) in February.
If Bel-Air is the richest barangay, Barangay Pange in Saiyan, Zamboanga del Norte, is the poorest.
Pange is one of the 16 barangays created when Siayan was declared as a municipality on January 23, 1967. About 38 kilometers from Siayan proper, Pange lies on the provincial boundary between the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur.
Pange has no electricity, no potable water system, and no health and daycare centers. Situated in one of the most rugged terrains in the Zamboanga peninsula, it is geographically remote and almost inaccessible to public transportation.
Pange is socio-economically vulnerable to anti-government insurgency.
About 99 percent of its 1,100 residents are Subanen, a local ethnic group that only communicate through their own dialect.
Pange has an annual budget of less than P1 million.