The barangay was created after the declaration of martial law in 1972 to replace the barrio as the basic unit of Philippine political system. It is the political unit from which the collective views of the people can be considered in the formulation of local as well as national policies and programs. Heading it is an elected official, the barangay captain. A barangay is composed of at least 2,000 inhabitants. As a legal personality, the barangay has both corporate and administration powers. It has police powers to administer the affairs of the community and to maintain peace and order; the power to take away private property for public use upon payment of just compensation and the power of taxation.
The barangay also has a legislative body, the Sangguniang Barangay, composed of the Punong Barangay, barangay members elected at large and the Sangguniang Kabataan Chair. It has the power to issue ordinances subject to review by the Sangguniang Panglungsod or Bayan. Barangay officials serve a term of three years and cannot serve for more than three consecutive terms in the same position. The administration of “barangay justice” is among their tasks, although through the Katarungang Pambarangay/Lupong Tagapamayapa. This body, composed of the Punong Barangay and 10 to 20 members, provides a system of amicable settlement of disputes in the barangay level without need of judicial recourse.
The Local Government Code has seen to it that barangays now get a 20 percent share in the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA). And like provinces, towns and cities, barangays can float bonds, enter into contracts, sell properties and solicit personal contributions and donations from private agencies to generate funds. This without having to ask permission from higher offices, all they need is the authorization of the Sangguniang Barangay (SB).
Obviously, the punong barangay or barangay chairman is the official to watch in a barangay. Besides enforcing laws and ordinances, he appoints the treasurer, secretary, and members of the tanod, with the approval of the barangay council. These appointments bear watching to foil possible collusion between the barangay chairman and other officials. This is particularly true for the barangay treasurer, who collects and keeps the money on the barangay’s behalf. The law disallows a person who is already a councillor, government employee or related to the barangay chairman up to the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity to be named treasurer.
As in other LGUs, the barangay development plan is the one of the outputs of the barangay development council. The plan lists the barangay’s priority programs, projects and activities. The chairman, members of the SB, NGO representatives, representatives of the congressman and the municipality, and a representative and the head of the Sangguniang Kabataan make up the development council.
Households in the barangay should manifest on what basic services they truly need. Their concerns should be addressed in the development plan. We force them to think in terms of the following: What’s the main problem in the barangay? What are the projects that should be implemented? But some habits are just hard to discard, the obsession of some barangay officials to take advantage of kickbacks of at least 10 percent of the contract price in infrastructure projects.
When it comes to budgeting, barangay follow a different process from other LGUs. All their income goes to a general fund, which the barangay keeps as a trust fund in the custody of the city and municipal treasurer or deposits in a bank. On or before September 15, the barangay treasurer submits to the barangay chairman the estimated income and expenditures. The budget is submitted to the Sangguniang Panglungsod or Bayan for review. It is given 60 days to approve the budget or declare it inoperative. Financial records of the barangay are subject to audit by COA, which reports its findings to the local legislature. The reports are kept in the office of the municipal or city accountant. Barangays, however, are subject to cyclical audits spread over a two-year period.
The roles of the Barangay Captains are:
- Determining the needs and collating the demands of his/her constituents and presenting these to the mayor for joint action;
- Initiating and facilitating barangay assemblies and meetings where residents address common concerns and issues;
- Serving as the people’s sounding board; and
- Delivering basic government services and representing the mayor to his constituents on a day-to-day basis. (From The Mayor’s Handbook)
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