BAGUIO CITY – The renewed call for the merger of barangays in the city received more boost as Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) president Councilor Michael Lawana identified the scheme as one of the league’s priorities with the year-long postponement of the barangay elections.
Lawana, in his report during the flag-raising rites last Monday said they will take advantage of the one-year extension in the rule of incumbent barangay officials to drum up awareness to the merger plan along with its advantages and disadvantages to finally muster the needed support to the long overdue scheme.
“It is timely that we were granted a one-year extension and we hope that within that period, we can conduct an IEC (information-education campaign) to our constituents on the merger,” Lawana said.
He said that under the scheme, the city will reduce the number of barangays from 128 to just 40-60 by merging adjoining ones.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan agreed that the resetting of the barangay polls will buy time to prepare the merger scheme and implement it come election time in October, 2017.
He said it is high time to consider the scheme to address problems on the financial and administrative stature of some barangays which fall short based on the criteria and requirements under the Local Government Code of 1991.
The mayor said that based on the criteria, many barangays in the city are not qualified to exist as such as they do not satisfy the requirements on area and population, among others.
The merger was first proposed in 2003 but only reached the level of holding consultations.
In 2007, the matter again surfaced but again failed to materialize.
Pro-merger advocates then said the merger would lead to the professionalization of the service and standardization of salaries of barangay heads and councils which will redound to benefits for the constituents. The reduced number of barangays would also make it easier to manage on the part of the city government apart from the fact that it would in effect help the city comply with the requirements of the Local Government Code on the set up of the barangays.
On the other hand, those opposed to the idea cited concerns on the chances of smaller barangays to get a seat in the barangay councils and to get a share from the budgets should the merger be pursued. They also aired concern on the bigger responsibility that the merger would entail on the barangay officials.
Domogan rued the “parochial” grounds for objection but offered a solution to the issue of representation to Lawana for consideration in the ordinance to be proposed for the purpose.
He said barangays merged should be divided into puroks and each purok will have a representation in the barangay council as kagawads.
“That way, all puroks will be represented and only the barangay captain will be elected at large,” he said. /Aileen P. Refuerzo