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Editorial | Go local

In the implementation of laws, the smallest of the local government units is often taken for granted. The barangay, which can further be divided into sitios and puroks, holds administrative, executive, legislative powers, even settling of disputes within its jurisdiction. Due to its size and the assistance of sitio and purok leaders, the barangay officials know their constituents and are able to respond to their needs. A barangay that is responsive to the needs of the people is the face of the city and national government.

They are better equipped to implement laws and are able to represent the sentiments of the people and bring it to the city or national agencies concerned. They have tanods on patrol who basically know what is happening in their barangay at any time of day.

Take for instance the Anti-Smoking Law. In March 2019, a Pulse Asia survey showed that almost one in four adult Filipinos (24%) use tobacco, with 19% saying they are daily tobacco smokers, whereas almost 8 out of 10 adult Filipinos (76%) say they do not use tobacco, with 62% saying that they never used tobacco in their life. This remains an alarming number considering the effort of the government to curb tobacco use.

As a microcosm of society, people in the barangay know who among their constituents are heavy smokers needing intervention which the city government provides for free. It is also easier for the barangay officials to involve the community in the anti-smoking campaign.

The Constitution of the Philippines provides that local governments “shall enjoy local autonomy,” and in which the Philippine president exercises “general supervision.”
But this can only work if the barangay officials have the proper knowledge and skills to perform its functions and have the political will to implement laws.

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