SENATOR Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara’s genuine concern for the country’s underpaid barangay officials, who work almost 24 hours a day throughout the year, is most encouraging.
Fifteen months before next year’s barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections, Angara filed a bill which seeks to treat village executives as regular government employees.
Under Senate Bill (SB) No. 136, or the Magna Carta for Barangays, village authorities are granted fixed salaries, allowances, insurance coverage, retirement and other fringe benefits.
“Mahalaga ang trabahong ginagampanan ng ating mga barangay kaya dapat lang na makatanggap sila ng angkop na benepisyo,” said the workaholic and boyish-looking legislator.
At present, the country’s overworked but underpaid village officials and employees do not receive fixed salaries. They are only entitled to honoraria and other allowances.
In filing SB No. 136, Angara also wants the National Treasurer to automatically remit to the barangays their just share from national taxes at the end of every calendar year.
This, he said, will ensure that the barangay, which is the country’s basic political unit, enjoys local autonomy as envisioned by the landmark Local Government Code of the Philippines.
The bill also outlines the priorities in the barangay, namely maintaining a regular supply of clean and potable water and the setting up of an elementary school, health center and barangay hall.
We have rather high hopes that with many well-meaning members of the two-chamber Congress, like Angara, the 18th Congress is seen to pass the proposed Magna Carta for Barangays.
It’s a move in the right direction.