Koko proposes more funds, powers to barangays

SENATOR Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III filed a bill seeking to give more funds and powers to barangay as the basic political unit, to spur socio-economic development in their localities and address criminality.

“Barangay leaders, particularly in the rural areas, should take an active role in socio-economic development, which consists of “increasing the productive output per person, and eliminating poverty, unemployment, inequality and the deprivation of essential needs of the masses of the people,” Pimentel said in a statement Monday.

Pimentel who spoke before the Regional Congress of the Liga ng mga Barangay, Bicol region held at Olongapo City Convention Center, said that under Senate Bill 2987 filed recently, the share of local government units will be increased from 40% to 50% of the internal revenue allotment collected by national government.

The bill also seeks to amend the Local Government Code (LGC)  to enhance the powers of the barangays and the barangay leaders.

If Senate Bill 2987 is approved, Pimentel said, the share of local government units, including barangays, would be increased to several billions of pesos.

“More money going to the coffers of the barangays should translate into more development for their constituencies that will address the problem of poverty throughout the nation in a more direct manner,” the senator from Mindanao said.

Pimentel pointed out that barangay captains are the only officials of government who are vested with executive, legislative and judicial powers. Thus, barangay captains wield tremendous powers that they can use for the good of their constituents.

Powers of Barangays

But barangays should be given more powers under the LGC, Pimentel said.

He said under the proposed measure, the barangay should have the power and the authority to supervise the activities of the police assigned in its territory. After all, barangay captains and members of the sanggunian are persons in authority as ordained by law. And police officers are by law agents of persons in authority.

Also, barangay officials should also be empowered to identify and actively prosecute traffickers of women and children in their respective areas.

Said officials have the power to supervise the activities of health, agriculture and social welfare officials in the barangays in coordination with the proper city or municipal officials.

The proposed measure provide the taxing power of barangays to cover businesses with maximum yearly sales of not exceeding P5 million in lieu of the archaic P50 thousand limits in city barangays and P30 thousand in municipal barangays.

Pimentel lamented that some barangays do not allocate funds for economic development while others are not transparent in the use of the funds and do not publicly account for the use of their barangay funds.

“With power comes responsibility. And with more powers come more responsibilities”, told the barangay officials, as he reminded them that even local treasurers, including barangay treasurers are mandated by the Local Government Code to post the itemized monthly collections and disbursements within 10 days following the end of every month and for at least two consecutive weeks at prominent places in the barangay hall, plaza and main street.

“Accountability compels compliance with official duty. Without accountability, corruption will, more often than not, taint official acts,” the senator said.

Pimentel asked the barangay leaders to tap non-governmental and civil society groups in creating economic opportunities at the barangay level.

“Economic empowerment must be viewed as a stepping stone to political empowerment — the rationale for strong civil society participation that ensures democratic governance,” he said.

Pimentel urged the private sector  “to play a bigger role in realizing the economic potential of barangays and our people by providing entrepreneurship training and skills enhancement, market development, product development and technology intervention, network linkages and access to capital.”

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