Abolishing the position of barangay kagawad (village councilman) and retaining only that of barangay chairman “would leave the chairman in total control of barangay affairs and most especially of the barangay budget,” a lawmaker warned on Tuesday.
While opposing a plan by Congress to remove the kagawad position, Rep. Lito Atienza of Buhay party-list group, however, clarified that he fully supports the idea of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to get rid of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK or Youth Council) in the barangay system.
Atienza pointed out that one of the most important functions of the kagawad—who is part of the barangay council—is to provide a check-and-balance mechanism.
“Doing this (abolition of the kagawad position) is tantamount to removing Congress and letting the national government have sole discretion on how to utilize the national budget; or removing City Council members and leaving only the mayor to decide how to dispense of the city budget. We cannot leave that power in the hands of just one person,” he said.
The barangay council, Atienza added, is essential to ensuring that barangay funds are utilized properly.
“It has a specific role in our democratic system. You abolish its members and you change the whole scheme of things,” he said.
Atienza was speaking from experience, having been a barangay kagawad and a barangay chairman himself.
“I was a barangay kagawad, then a barangay chairman for eight years. We went through all the functions of these two positions and they are essentially co-related,” he said.