Vote-buying in the barangay elections
Many candidates for today’s Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, particularly in Metro Manila and other highly-urbanized areas of the country have resorted to vote-buying, and this meant that there is more to prestige and popularity that goes along with winning in the village polls.
Some of the candidates I know, as of Friday night, have distributed either goods or cash – from P300 to P1,000 per voter – in their respective areas just to win in the polls, similar to what some local candidates like mayors and governors do in every election.
They have also launched gimmicks and spent big amounts of money for their campaign posters, food and beverage, vehicle rent and gasoline, for their campaign.
Every barangay in the country, depending on its ratio of its population and land area, has a 10 percent Internal Revenue Allotment coming from the government, and the richer one’s area is, the bigger its share.
If for example a barangay has an annual IRA share of P50 million, 10 percent of it (P5m) goes to the SK and the rest to the Barangay official and his or her kagawad to be spent for payroll, maintenance and operating expenses, peace and order, beautification and other projects, among others.
And this (barangay funds) could be the main reason why the village and youth polls have become hotly-contested since it was codified under the Local Government Code in 1991.
In my last column, I cited the fact that in every barangay project, there is what they termed as SOPs in every project. SOP means a barangay chairman or his council’s commission for every village project they implement.
Every barangay prepares its annual budget and this includes the SK’s 10 percent share; personal services; maintenance and operating expenses; 20 percent barangay development fund; 5 percent calamity funds. It is being approved by the town or city council.
The barangay can also file for a supplemental or additional budget depending on the availability of more IRA funds they are about to receive.
From these IRAs, which is controlled by barangay bureau offices in every town or city halls, that some graft and corruption occurs and are being perpetrated by barangay officials, city or town officials and the latter’s favored contractors.
Every barangay project appears to be just a pro-forma style: the barangay is informed by the town or city hall of availability of funds; the barangay identifies and signs the project proposal; the favored contractor facilitates the documentation and implementation of the project, etc.
Before or after each project, the contractor will get his 20 percent share of SOP of the project cost. Another 5 percent for VAT and one percent for the withholding tax would automatically be deducted from the total project cost.
The barangay chairman’s SOP, on the other hand, is also 20 percent. If he’s “transparent,” he would share some of the SOPs to his subordinates to make “everybody happy.”
If a project costs P1 million, P400,000 goes to the contractor and the barangay chairman (P200,000 each); six percent to government taxes and only a little over 50 percent or P500,000 will go to the project implementation.
If a barangay has an allocated annual fund of say, P30 million, P3 million of it will go to the. The SK, just like the barangay officials, will also be used by city hall officials and their favored contractors in the identification, implementation of their local projects.
Because of the availability of IRA funds in the barangays, many village and youth officials nowadays are engaged in graft and corruption, aside from other irregularities that hound these groups since their inception.
In today’s barangay and SK polls, some of the candidates, particularly those seeking re-election, are also asking/getting funds from their favorite mayors to aid their bid in exchange, of course, for their support in the May 2013 local elections.
For comments and feedback, please email me at email@example.com. Romie A. Evangelista