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Rough Cuts | This could heat up next village polls

Here is one very welcome development especially for barangay officials all over the country. That is, if the plan pushes through.

We are referring to the bill filed in the Senate by Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara dubbed as the Magna Carta for Barangays denominated as Senate Bill No. 136.

The measure, according to its author, seeks to provide better and commensurate pay for the country’s frontline workers, the barangay officials and employees in the village government. Not only that the said bill will provide for better pay and benefits for village officials, the measure once approved by both houses of Congress, will also increase local autonomy.

In a statement Angara said , the village officials and employees deserve fixed salaries, allowances, insurance, medical and dental coverage, retirement and other fringe benefits. After all, according to the bill’s author, the barangay officials and employees are the first to respond to people’s needs in time of crisis in their villages.

In the bill the senator from Quezon Province is proposing that the barangay captains shall receive a salary equivalent to the monthly pay of members of Sangguniang Panlungsod or Bayan in their city or municipality. The members of the Barangay Council shall be entitled to a monthly pay equivalent to 80 percent of the salary of a Sangguniang Panlungsod or Bayan member.

Should this bill pass into law the barangay captains in Davao City will be entitled to a monthly pay of some P60,000 plus allowances and other benefits. The members of the barangay councils in the city’s 182 villages will be getting P48,000 or 80 percent of the city councilor’s pay.

We have no iota of doubt that Angara will be wildly cheered by the current barangay officials who would surely be hoping that his bill becomes a law and be made effective during their incumbency. For now however, the bill’s eventually becoming into law is still a long shot. There has to have a corresponding bill filed in the Lower House. And the likelihood is that it could be much harder to pass that bill in that Chamber.

We believe however, that the introduction of that particular bill in the Senate could already be paving the way for a more heated and vibrant barangay elections in the coming years. Many, for certain, will be running for Village chairs and councilors since the pay will now be regular and even more rewarding.

Therefore, it would not be surprising if even those most reluctant in participating barangay polls will suddenly become conspicuously involved in barangay activities. With the possibility of having barangay officials get paid with fixed monthly salary, given the allowances and other benefits provided under the Magna Carta for Barangays incumbent village executives will be strongly pushing for the postponement of the barangay elections set next year to another five years hereafter.

Of course, those aiming to get a crack at any of the elective positions at the village level, would also be pushing for the holding of the barangay polls as scheduled next year.

Well, Senator Sonny, your bill seems to have stirred some hornets’ nest on the route towards the next barangay polls.

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We really do not have any idea whether the officials at the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the City Engineer’s Office (CEO) are communicating with each other in the process of implementing infrastructure projects in Davao City.

We are raising this question because we have observed that the two entities are implementing complementary drainage projects in the city all aimed at preventing incidence of destructive floods in low-lying areas.

One such drainage project is ongoing implementation somewhere at Kilometer 6 in Bangkal. According to some residents nearby whom we have talked with, the drainage leading to the main highway emanating from higher grounds has pipes with 48 inches in diameter. This one according to some residents, is a project of the city government of Davao. But another drainage project in the same area is also on its road side clearing stage. The project is funded by the national government through the DPWH. According to residents of the area, they were told by a team from DPWH conducting initial surveys of the project site, the drainage pipe to be installed will have a diameter of 60 inches. The size indeed can surely accommodate huge volume of water that if allowed to remain passing the ground surface will surely inundate several areas in Bangkal and Matina Crossing like what happened in June of 2011.

But what residents claim they are fearful about is that both drainage projects will be interconnected somewhere. And they said they are haunted with the thought that varying sizes of drainage pipes interconnected could result to impeded water flow.

Thus, the likelihood is that these new drainage projects would not be an effective prevention of flooding in certain critical areas of the city.

Well, let’s just hope their fears do not have enough basis. But still, we see the need for coordination among local and national government agencies when considering projects intended to help solve certain recurrent problems in the city. Or, they would just be wasting people’s money down the drain.

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