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98 Hog-tied Barangays


The Local Government Code of the Philippines was enacted in 199l via Republic Act 7160. Now we are already on the 2nd quarter of Fiscal Year 2014 which means that this Code which is the political Bible of all the local government units all over this archipelago is already 23 years old if my basic Arithmetic is correct.

All elected local officials who know how to read and write from the governor down to the barangay kagawad, are expected to understand operationally at least their functions, duties, and responsibilities for they are all enumerated in this Code of 199l. It is also generally assumed, presumed, expected, and officially mandated that by virtue of his Oath of Office, he/she must serve his/her term of office with utmost efficiency, effectiveness, honesty and to the best of his ability. Whether, this has been demonstrated by all elected public servants from the enactment of this Local Government Code, is the primary concerned of those who have been legally assigned to do performance evaluation in all the different levels of our political bureaucracy. I am not in any competent position to do that.

The focus of my concern is Section 106 of this particular Government Code which stipulates that:

“Each local government unit shall have a comprehensive multi-sectoral development plan to be initiated by its development council and approved by its sanggunian. For this purpose, the development council at the provincial, city, municipal, or barangay level, shall assist the corresponding sanggunian in setting the direction of economic and social development and coordinating development efforts within its territorial jurisdiction.”

I think you will agree with me that if only our political leaders from the date of the enactment of this Local Government Code Twenty Three (23) years have consistently, faithfully, objectively, impartially, holistically, comprehensively, equitably, and honesty complied with Section 106, Zamboanga City would have progressed and developed into a Metropolis much earlier and faster than Cebu and Davao which are now officially classified as Metro Cities. We would have not been hounded by grave problems of over-crowdedness, mounting uncollected garbage, monstrous traffic snarls, high incidence of criminality, frequent incidence of fire, massive poverty, human trafficking and other chronic and seemingly incurable problems attendant to a horribly huge population jam-packed within a very small territory where the greatest volume of progress and development is concentrated. If this Development Council only strictly followed the “greatest good for the greatest number” principle in comprehensively planning the progress and development of this City, it is possible that by this time, Vitali, Curuan, Ayala, Sangali, Labuan, Ayala and Taluksangay would have already been rapidly flourishing cities more modern and advanced in all aspects compared to the recently created cities in Mindanao which were not even popularly known barangays before.

Our local political leaders have been bragging about the robust financial position of Zamboanga City. In fact, they claim to have billions and billions of savings in the banks. And yet when a proposal to make Zamboanga City into a Metropolis is presented by creating satellite or daughter cities in the East and West Coasts, or creating a new province within its huge territorial jurisdiction so that qualified barangays could become municipalities and later on cities, our local political leaders like the Roman Legion, immediately close ranks to employ the indestructible and impenetrable military “fish scale” tactic or “cross bow” defense position to shoot it down. This is the primary root-cause of the catastrophic concentration of people and development within a micro land mass called the City Proper while the rural areas have remained hopelessly cogonal, piedragal, and Binayoyoan for centuries.  

Brilliant and outstanding political leaders of Zamboanga, when are you going to stop hog-tying the 98 barangays? By the way when was the last time you visited Vitali and helped the people in that distant barangay develop politically, economically, and socially? How about Sakul Island, when was the last time you conducted a face-to-face consultation with the inhabitants there to assist them in their efforts to come up with their realistic and attainable comprehensive development plan? What about, Labuan? 

If you can’t pay attention to their needs anymore, the best option is to set them free and let them chart their own destiny. Decentralization of power and functions could be the key to rapid progress and development in the rural communities. This is also encouraged and not curtailed in the Local Government Code of 1991. Check it out if you are in doubt.

By Clem M. Bascar

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