HOUSE Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte wants to abolish all barangay (village) councils, as well as the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) or youth council, calling them “useless.”
Alvarez made the statement after his announcement last week that Congress would postpone the village and youth elections, set on October, to 2017.
“We are also looking at abolishing the barangay councilmen and women. Truth be told, these people do not work at all. Those who work are the barangay chairmen. I will say this even if I earn the ire of the barangay council members,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said elective posts in the lowest level of government should be limited to barangay chairmen. Purok or zone leaders may be appointed.
“We need to fix this country. We need change. Because really, it’s only the barangay chairmen who do the work as compared with the barangay health workers who really have their slippers worn out [because of work]even if they are only receiving honoraria,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez placed the SK in the same boat, pointing out that the youth do not have time for council work in the first place because they are still in school.
“If you will make the SK council work, they will skip school. And if they stay in school, they can’t attend to their SK duties. They are earning salaries even if they are not doing anything. It’s better that we remove the SK altogether,” Alvarez said.
“Besides, all sectors are already represented [in Congress]. There’s even a party-list for the youth,” Alvarez added, referring to Kabataan party-list.
There are at least 42,000 barangay in the country as of April, according to the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
Former Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr., author of the Local Government Code, however, cautioned against a sweeping generalization on the work habits of barangay officials.
“I am not too sure that I can agree with that general observation. Of course, there are barangay council members who are discharging their duties well while others do not. It should be up to the electorate to punish the non-performing barangay council members,” Pimentel told The Manila Times.
“However, I respect the Speaker’s views even if it would tend to re-concentrate powers over barangay matters into the hands of municipal or city officials,” Pimentel added.
Pimentel, however, supported Alvarez’s stance on abolishing the SK, and suggested that young people elect a representative to the village council instead.
“These youth representatives should be elected as it was originally provided under the Local Government Code,” Pimentel added.
Rep. Sherwin Tugna of the Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption party-list and House suffrage and electoral reforms panel chairman, defended Alvarez’s proposals.
“His statement has basis because he’s drawn it from his experience in his district and province. Be that as it may, all proposals to amend the Local Government Code will be deliberated in Congress,” Tugna said.