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Senate bills will help barangay officials

 

EDITORIAL edt

A NUMBER of bills have been filed in the Senate to help barangay chairmen, kagawads, and other officials of this frontline service of the government.

One bill authored by Sen. Manuel Lapid provides for social security and non-monetary benefits for all barangay officials as well as workers and volunteers, including education, training, and skills development.

Sen. Sonny Angara’s bill seeks to make barangay officials regular state employees entitled to fixed salaries and benefits. It also calls for every barangay to have such basic services as a regular supply of potable water, public transportation, school, health center, and barangay hall.

A bill filed by Sen. Francis Tolentino seeks to provide incentives and tax exemptions for barangay officials, members of the Lupong Tagapamayapa, and barangay employees. A key provision of the bill provides for legal representation in the event a barangay official becomes involved in a legal or administrative case connected with the performance of his duty.

One barangay chairman who stands to benefit from the Tolentino bill if it becomes law is Wilfredo Mariano of Barangay Tangos South, Navotas City. He was in his office on election day, May 13, 2016, when a group of men brought a city hall employee to his barangay hall on charges of vote-buying. The employee, however, later filed counter-charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention, including the barangay chairman allegedly in conspiracy with the men who had brought him to the barangay hall on election day.

Chairman Mariano has written President Duterte, Secretary Eduard Año of the Department of Interior and Local Government, and Secretary Menardo Guevarra of the Department of Justice. Should the case reach the court, he said, he is in no position to fight a legal battle.

The nation’s barangay officials are mostly ordinary citizens with average incomes. The bills now in the Senate providing for various forms of aid to barangay officials, including fixed pay and other monetary benefits would be of great help to them, but the bill providing for legal representation in cases arising in connection with their official duties would be specially welcomed by Chairman Mariano and others who may find themselves similarly situated in the course of their work.

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