Barangay officials should now focus on the development programs and projects that were left unattended during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic after the law postponing the December 5 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) was moved to a later date, Board Member Ferdinand P. Zaballa said.

Zaballa, president of the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) Palawan Chapter, said they openly supported the postponement of the December BSKE for the reason that they were not able to fully function as barangay captains in the last two years because of the pandemic.

He stated that after learning that the law had already been signed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., he spoke with the municipal ABC presidents in the province to remind them of their obligations.

“Kaya ngayon, ang direction ng Liga ng mga Barangay dito sa Palawan is to see to it na ma-comply yung sinasabi natin na hindi nagawa ng mga kapitan. Yung mga development projects nila, dapat ma-implement nila yun in one year. In the meantime, titiyakin din namin na yung mga backlogs ay dapat maisaayos nila,” Zaballa told Palawan News in a telephone interview.

“Babantayan natin yung mga pangako ng mga kapitan na, sabi nyo kaya kaya na-extend because may mga kailangan natin na mai-comply so, yun ang babantayan natin. So, sabi ko sa mga mga [municipal] liga presidents, I will really be strict kasi mapapahiya tayo kung nag-request tayo for the postponement tapos hindi tayo magiging responsible doon sa reasons kung bakit natin pinapa-postpone,” he explained.

He also said programs that barangay officials need to prioritize are health and nutrition programs and barangay-based institutions.

“Dapat mabigyan ng atensyon yung health and nutrition programs ng barangay dahil yung iba mataas ang malnutrition prevalence rate. Again, during the pandemic, mas mauunawaan natin yan because yung pera doon nakatutok. Then yung mga barangay-based institutions kagaya ng Katarungang Pambarangay, Barangay Council for the Protection of Children, medyo napabayaan ito during the pandemic,” he said.

“Again, this is understandable because lahat ng pondo ay nakatuon sa pandemic. Ngayon na tapos na ang pandemic, dapat maisaayos na nila yun. Kung kailangang i-recap ito, i-retrain sila, I will do it,” he added.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan ex-officio member further stated that while all barangays generally need to be focused on, those that are in the island municipalities should be given extra attention.

“Usually, nakikita kong medyo kailangang tutukan is yung mga barangay doon sa island municipalities. Yung nasa mainland medyo ok naman. Pero halos lahat ng barangay ay kailangang tutukan at bantayan. Yung expenses nila, talagang dapat maisaayos na, matutukan na yung mga nabinbin na programa,” he stated.

He also said he has filed several resolutions to address the concerns.

“I filed a resolution for the reactivation of the barangay nutrition council and then pagpapaigting ng barangay nutrition programs. And then yung pag-capacitate ng katarungang pambarangay,” he added.

Mixed reactions
Meanwhile, Puerto Princesa City Councilor Myka Mabelle L. Magbanua said in a separate interview that she has mixed reactions regarding the BSKE postponement.

Magbanua had earlier expressed opposition to the postponement, said it would give time for other officials to make up for their shortcomings.

She also said that it will allow other SK officials to reap the benefits of receiving an honorarium.

“Sa aking pananaw, vested ng Philippine Constitution yung right to suffrage so dahil sa paulit-ulit na postponement, parang tinatanggal natin yung karapatan na yun. Karamihan ng mga SK officials now, either may pamilya na or may ibang trabaho na kasi nga, pangalawang postponement na ito so, yung mandato naming ay hindi na renewed. Supposedly, hanggang 2020 lang tayo, so kumbaga yung sense of accountability, hindi na ito yung mandato na ibinigay ng electorate noong 2018,” Magbanua said.

“Pangalawa, since nandiyan na yan and in behalf na rin ng SK officials dito sa atin, from 2018 walang honoraria yung mga SK Kagawad, secretaries and treasurers. So for this year, na na-postpone yung elections, at least mararanasan nila yung reporma na yun na makatanggap ng honoraria,” she explained, in reference to the proposed city ordinance she has filed that is now pending at the Sangguniang Panlungsod.

She said the ordinance is currently subject to a public hearing and expressed confidence that it will be included in the 2023 budget of the city government.

“And siyempre doon sa mga barangay and SK officials na sa tingin nila ay hindi pa nila natatapos yung kanilang adhikain, meron pa silang oras para bawiin yung mga pagkululang sa mga nagdaang taon,” she said.

The city’s SK Federation President also stated that while the extension of their term of office was not in their plans, they are once again obliged to prepare and provide programs and activities for the next year.

She added that they will just continue with their previous programs focused on education, health, the environment, capability building, gender sensitivity, sports development, and economic empowerment.

“We have already wrapped up our programs and our reports, in preparation for the end of our term, but because of the extension, our focus is to help SK officials sa buong Puerto Princesa to wrap up as well their reports para hindi magkaroon ng problema. Kasi in the previous batches, may mga hindi pa nakatapos ng reports nila so hanggang ngayon meron pa ring hinahabol na reports at hindi pa sila nakakuha ng clearance from the DILG and other agencies,” she said.

“And isa pa ay tuloy-tuloy lang din yung mga programa natin kasi ngayong taon, magbabago yung comprehensive barangay youth development plan namin so we have to renew it. Ngayong October ay may planning sessions kami kung ano yung mga gagawin para sa 2023 hanggang 2025,” she concluded.

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