[HB 2607 seeks salaries, benefits, fiscal autonomy for barangays]

It is time to usher in the next major phase on infusing good governance at the barangay level by further empowering barangay leaders to exercise responsible and accountable leadership, according to a Mindanaoan congressman who has filed a Magna Carta for Barangays.

House Bill 2607 of Iligan City Rep. Frederick W. Siao wants the barangays to receive their “fair share of revenues” directly from the Department of Budget and Management.

He also proposed that barangay officials receive salaries and benefits like those regular civil servants receive.

“This game-changing bill I am proposing is a suggested working document. It is open to improvements. The barangays are the public face of the government out there in the front lines. It gives proper importance to the role of barangays in nation-building and not as political puppets,” Siao said.

“These goals are based on principles. Barangays must have the appropriate powers, resources, and reasonable autonomy to solve their own problems, without having to wait for instructions from city hall or the provincial capitol, many kilometers and hours away. They were elected as leaders. We must let them be leaders, not mere followers,” he added.

Siao said downloading the funds from DBM directly to the barangays would improve the quality and speed of delivery of basic services communities need.

“Sa kasalukuyang sistema, bago matanggap ng barangay ang pondo, pipila muna sina Kapitan kina mayor at konseho at kina governor at provincial board. That is traditional politics and governance of subservience. Ang talo sa sistemang ito ang mga barangay at mamamayan,” the congressman said.

“HB 2607 is one way to make good governance really happen nationwide. But this is not a cure-all. DBM and COA must design, install, and operate a computerized financial management and auditing system to make sure the funds are spent right, on time, and fully accounted for,” Siao explained.

The Iligan City solon said the Civil Service Commission would have to find ways to make the barangay civil service professional and ethical.

“CSC would also need to treat barangay officials as elected officials and regular employees. The officials are elected political leaders but the positions they will occupy are entitled to regular employee salaries and benefits,” Siao said.

“The bottomline here is this: Kapag gusto, may paraan. Kapag ayaw, maraming dahilan. I am proposing this Magna Carta for Barangays because there is a strong clamor for it. This solution is long overdue,” Siao stressed. (END)

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