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ROUGH CUTS| ‘Sayon duolon, lisud pangitaon’

MANY YEARS back, a top Davaoeño politician was attributed with this catchphrase when sarcastically attacking his opponent, who prided himself as approachable to the ordinary man.

Sayon duolon, pero lisud pangitaon.”

Roughly translated, “Easy to approach but hard to find.” And if we may add our own innovative phrase, “Easily seen, but hardest to find.”

Either of the two catchphrases is now slowly morphing, especially for politicians and aspiring ones at the barangay level.

 Yes, we have noted that these days leading to the election of barangay officials and Sangguniang Kabataan officers. Suddenly, barangay activities are held and well-publicized in the whole village. And we now see almost every incumbent official of both the barangay and the SK physically present every time.

New personalities in the barangay suddenly make their presence conspicuous and even offer cash prizes for some events.

Also, where before, barangay officials like members of the Sanggunian who could hardly be found even in their residences or seen reporting or visiting the barangay hall except during session days, suddenly became present and religious in their holding of committee meetings to tackle this and that issue or present plans of their committees even at this time that their term is almost over.

In other words, where before, these people proudly pronounced to the constituency their approachability but were nowhere to be found if they sensed that the one looking for them wanted any assistance of whatever kind. Now, they are trying to court prospective voters again, although still evasive when the request for assistance becomes the subject.

Competing with the incumbents to get the attention of the barangay electorate are the neophytes. 

And believe you us, people. A good number of those new aspirants for barangay positions we have talked to are not so much thinking of the responsibilities attendant to the position they are aspiring for. Instead, they are unabashed in telling us that they are after the perks that may come when elected to office. 

First and foremost is the eventual implementation of the Mandanas law, which grants all barangay officials regular monthly salaries based on the salary grade level of each position as mandated in the Salary Standardization Law. Certainly, if the law takes effect, it would mean that the officials will be entitled to other benefits due to the government employees.

Then there is that opportunity to obtain cash loans from some lending institution offering immediate approval with the salary (allowance as of these days) as collateral.

And the more enticing “perks” include getting some “institutionalized” kickback from infrastructure projects implemented in their barangays, the full payment of which will require the acceptance of the barangay through its Sanggunian.

Other perks are the seasonal “dole outs” by the mayors (city or town), the governors, and congressmen who do their best and even their “worst” just to get the loyalty of the barangay officials, which assures them of votes in their respective jurisdictions.

Also, most, if not all, barangay officials, from the captains down to the Sanggunian members, become recipients of the so-called quota system. Under the scheme, the officials are given a quota to recommend to the city or municipal mayors some village residents to be employed either as contractual employees or “project-based.”

What does that make of them? Naturally, the village officials become purveyors of political influence.

And there are several “all expenses paid” travels sponsored by the government or by certain moneyed politicians commonly disguised as “Lakbay Arals” when, in truth, these are junkets.

Now, should we still be surprised if the Commission on Elections district offices swarmed with filers of certificates of candidacies for the upcoming barangay elections?

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