A Barangay is the smallest unit of government in our country. Under Republic Act 7160 otherwise known as the Local Government Code, the Barangay, as the basic political unit, serves as the primary planning and implementing unit of government policies, plans, programs, projects, and activities in the community, and as a forum wherein the collective views of the people may be expressed, crystallized and considered, and where disputes may be amicably settled (Section 384, R.A. 7160).
A Barangay is headed by the Punong Barangay and seven (7) members of Sangguniang Barangay (Section 387, R.A 7160). Their term of office is three (3) years. The next Barangay Election is scheduled to be held on the 25th day of October 2010. The Philippines held its last Barangay Election on the 29th of October 2007.
The postponement of the Barangay Election has been a hot issue in congress lately. Since the schedule for the conduct of Barangay Election is fast approaching, congress is currently debating whether to pass a law postponing the upcoming Barangay Election. Should the Barangay Election push through; candidates would be competing for position of Barangay chairman and seven Sangguniang Barangay members.
The leaders in congress are proposing to postpone the Barangay Election primarily on the ground of financial constraints. Vice President Jejomar Binay also expresses support for the postponement of the Barangay Election. He is of the opinion that the local government units cannot afford to contribute at least 25% of their annual budget for election expenditures. Under the law, the local government units may be compelled by the Commission on Election (COMELEC) to contribute to fund the Barangay Election expenditures. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile also proposes to postpone the Barangay Election and have it held simultaneously on May 2013 elections. (Enrile pabor ding ipagpaliban ang Barangay, SK Elections, GMA NEWS. 2010)
The Philippines held its first automated election during the 2010 National Election. While survey shows that it was the most peaceful election, nevertheless, there were unavoidable election violence that took place. Just like in the past elections, the COMELEC declared that there were fourteen (14) "election hotspots". These "election hotspots" are--- Ilocos Norte, Abra, Masbate, Nueva Ecija, Western Samar, Eastern Samar, Antique, Basilan, Sulu, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sarangani and Zamboanga Sibugay. (14 Provinces as HOTSPOTS, Sun Star Manila. 2010) In every election, violence is unavoidable despite government and COMELEC's effort to minimize the same by introducing reforms such as the computerization of the election. The COMELEC is trying its best to prevent killings and violence and cheating during the election. However, notwithstanding the efforts of COMELEC to prevent or stop these killings and violence, there will still be killings among candidates and supporters during election period. Such unfortunate events are inevitable during election period.
The most devastating election related violence was the Maguindanao Massacre. We all heard that more than 50 media men were massacred in Maguindanao. Thus, if the election is held this year, such violence will likely to happen again. Candidates and supporters will surely do everything to win in the election. Hence, if the Barangay Election is postponed, this will be a breathing space for our people to heal the wounds that was caused by the 2010 national election. Though it is temporary, people would not get to suffer again this year. As the saying goes, time heals all wounds. Online dictionary defines it as people eventually get over the bad things happened to them. (Time heals all wounds, Dictionary. n.d.)
I agree that aside from budgetary constraints, another strong reason why the upcoming Barangay Election scheduled this 25th day of October 2010 must be postponed is because of the recent hotly contested national Election which divided our countrymen. The recent division among our countrymen which caused personal ill-feelings among candidates and supporters are still fresh and remain unhealed.
I finally agree with our government leaders in proposing for the postponement of the upcoming Barangay Election because the holding of another election within the year is too much for us to bear. Our country is currently experiencing huge budget deficit. If we postpone the upcoming Barangay Election, our government will save at least three billion pesos. I believe that our government can use the savings for infrastructure and other basic services for the needs of the poor. I also believe that the upcoming Barangay Election will interrupt COMELEC's duty to decide pending election protests from the 2010 national Election promptly.
As previously stated, due to the recent hotly contested national Election, our countrymen remain divided up to the present. They are divided because of the support they gave to their respective chosen political party or candidate to the extent of hurting false personal accusations against one another. I am in favor of the postponement of this year's Barangay Election in order to heal the wounds of the last presidential Election. I am worried that candidates and supporters will be quarreling again and impute wrongdoing against one another just like in the last 2010 National Election, there were incidents wherein loyal supporters of one camp who accuse the other for being corrupt even without evidence just to destroy his reputation.
In another instance, another camp made false accusations that a candidate has psychological problems, such similar false accusations will surely arise again if we conduct the election this year. Thus, unhealed wounds would be opened up again. We cannot afford things to happen again. Division among our people is too deep and if not reminded, our people and the government might break down.
Another reason for the Barangay Election to be postponed is because of the huge expenses for the conduct of election. To conduct an election, the COMELEC will spend au to THREE BILLION PESOS (P3,000,000,000.00) for the printing ballots, salary of the teachers, and purchase of election paraphernalia and other election expenses.(Preparation for Barangay and SK Election, Philippine Update Election. 2010)
The money that will be used as an expense to conduct Barangay Election will come from taxes which our taxpayers pay. Because our country is having a huge budget deficit, the money allocated in our budget throughout the year is larger than the money earned or collected by the government. Thus, congress is proposing that the Barangay Election must be postponed.
The savings may be used to fund the infrastructure and other social services for the poor. Congress believes that the needs of the citizens should be the prioritized first before electing new officials. Conducting the Barangay Elections would not change the fact that the current or newly elected officials would still be doing their job. The government already spent more than TEN BILLION PESOS (P10,000,000,000.00) in the recent Presidential Election. (Finally, automated elections .2010) Our country just had the most expensive election this year. By postponing the Barangay Election, our government will be able to reduce the budget deficit which our economy greatly needs.
The Proponent who wants to have the Barangay Election held this year suggests that it should not be postponed. Her strongest point is the issue of corruption among current officials while I do admit that corruption thrives in our government including Barangays, I submit that conducting as election this year is not the solution to the problem. Election is not the solution to corruption.
The proponent for continuation of the Barangay Election this year argues that because of the elections, issues regarding the corrupt officials are exposed during campaign. She argues that during campaign, candidates expose anomalies and corruption. However, they failed to appreciate that the candidates often impute malice and false accusations and concoct evidence of corruption just to destroy the reputation of their opponent.
The proponent of this year's election failed to notice that I even if election will be held this year, there will still be corruption and several corrupt candidates will still win. Hence, competition will not disappear. The best solution to eradicate corruption is the strict and effectiveness implementation of the law. Thus, the government should see to it that the corrupt officials are prosecuted and punished so that other government officials will be afraid to commit corruption.
I believe that the postponement of the Barangay Election has far greater advantage that any possible disadvantage. In financial aspects, the money that may be saved will be used for infrastructures and public service. Hence, our people, especially the poor will greatly benefit from the funds for social services.
Because of the recent national election, the people are already divided. Filipinos should be unified especially during his hard times. We should have unity to achieve peace and order in this country. I don't see any disadvantage if we postpone the Barangay Election. Positions of Barangay officials will not be left vacant. Current Barangay officials will just continue to act in their respective official duties. Thus, public service will not be hampered.
I agree that the issue of election expense is the main reason why most of our government leaders opt to postpone the upcoming Barangay Election. Secondary is the unhealed wounds that Filipinos suffered by reason of the recent National Election. So many candidates and supporters became enemies because of the election. Another reason why most government officials agreed to postpone the Barangay Election because of the several election protests for the national election are still pending with the COMELEC, the holding of the Barangay Election this year will interrupt COMELEC's duty to decide the protests promptly.
Therefore, the postponement of the Barangay Election will be a great help for the whole country. Congress should pass a law for the postponement of the Barangay Election and have it held in 2011 or in 2012.