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Improve welfare of barangay officials to boost their productivity

VALENZUELA CITY, Philippines – Barangay Marulas personnel and residents in vulnerable areas join a Metro Manila-wide rescue drill operation as seen in this 14 June 2013 file image. Former mayor and now Senator Win Gatchalian wants to reclassify Punong Barangays and Barangay Kagawads as regular employees co-terminus with the term, and the Barangay Secretary and Barangay Treasurer as regular plantilla employees, among other welfare reforms. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Improving the welfare of barangay officials may lead to enhanced productivity of the government’s so-called immediate providers of frontline services, Senator Win Gatchalian said.

During the recent hearing of Gatchalian’s Senate Bill No. 366, or the Magna Carta for Barangay Officials, the lawmaker emphasized the need to give plantilla positions to barangay officials, as he lamented that many of these hardworking officials are often times subjected to the whims of politicians.

“Ngayon ho kasi, and nangyayari, the barangay officials are just receiving allowances instead of a regular monthly pay check,” Gatchalian pointed out.

“Biruin mo, sila po ang nasa frontline service natin, kung may problema tayo, sila po agad-agad nalalapitan, pero di po pala sila tumatanggap ng sahod, kundi konting allowances pa, depende pa sa kakayanan ng munisipyo o lungsod na nabibilangan nila,” he added.

Gatchalian noted that his bill proposes to fill in the inequities in the present law by providing for the regularization of the Punong Barangay, Barangay Kagawads, the Treasurer and the Secretary; and providing for allowances and benefits to the members of the lupon tagapamayapa, and tanods, as currently, the latter two sets of barangay officers are not receiving any from the Local Government Code.

SBN 366, in a nutshell, aims to reclassify the Punong Barangay, the Barangay Kagawads, as regular employees co-terminus with the term; and the Secretary, and the Treasurer as regular plantilla employees. Under Gatchalian’s proposal, the Punong Barangay, Barangay Kagawads, the Secretary and Treasurer will fall under salary grades 12, 10, 8, and 8 respectively; increase the term limit of elective barangay officials from three years to five years; and provide capacity development and training  programs for such barangay officials.

The Magna Carta for Barangay Officials also has a provision pertaining to the creation of the Barangay Retirement Gratuity Fund for the barangay tanods, and members of the lupon, which is a retirement mechanism for these barangay officers who are not regular employees.

Meanwhile, the lawmaker from Valenzuela estimated that the government needs to allocate ₱10.7 billion per month or ₱129 billion per year to fund the salaries of the barangay captain, barangay kagawads, treasurers, and secretaries; and the allowances of the members of the lupon tagapamayapa and tanods, in some 42,000 barangays.

“So, these are the simple computations that we made so that we will have an idea on how much is needed to fund this proposal. Ang challenge po ngayon, since this is a spending bill, doon po sa mga municipalities and cities na hindi na maa-afford ito, who will pay? Because the barangays are not created equal,” he said.

Citing data from the Department of Finance’s Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF), Gatchalian pointed out that 50% of the municipalities and 90% of the cities can afford to pay ₱3.07 million per year per barangay.

He added that 50% of the municipalities and 10% of the cities that are considered small cannot afford to pay ₱3.07 million per year per barangay.

Gatchalian tasked the Department of Interior and Local Government to accurately compute how much the government needs in order to finance the salaries of kapitan, salaries of sanggunian, salaries of treasurer, secretaries, including the various allowances that were mentioned in the various bills.

“We first need to determine the capacities, based on simple mathematics, 50% of the municipalities can afford, 50% cannot; 90% of the cities can afford, 10% cannot,” he said. “These are based on our information gathered. The BLGF will have much accurate information and it will give us a very good view on the capacities and the funds needed to finance all of these proposals.