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THE BARANGAY SYSTEM

By Dindo Generoso July 2, 2001

Introduction:

David C. Martinez, a son quoting from his father's words, " "

without Manila's permission

comprising the "Republic of the Philippines" whose peoples are collectively known as Filipinos.

not a leaf shall fall

sums up the predicament of the various nations

Ever since the Spanish conquistadors first established their colonial foothold in Manila and declared ownership of all the islands now comprising the Philippine archipelago the nations inside that territory had never known complete freedom of self-determination. After more than three hundred years of Spanish domination and rule, the ownership was simply passed on to the Americans who ignored the declaration of independence by our own patriots.

When the United States 'granted' the country its 'independence' in 1946 it was not an act of granting the Filipinos freedom of self-determination but a grant of authority to the ruling local elite to take the cudgels of running a colony. History tells us that America has never ceased to meddle with our affairs.

To this day, the various nations of the country remain as de facto colonies administered by a ruling elite firmly established as the Central Government in

Manila. For decades they have legitimized their stranglehold of power by conducting sham "democratic elections" where majority of voters neither understand nor know the implications of what they are doing. The minority who know the value of the vote are no match for the ignorant majority. One man one vote. The ruling elite has made sure that that majority is forever ignorant by making education beyond their reach. Let us not fool ourselves. We, Filipinos are still in shackles. As

nations

within this state have no control of our own finances, commerce, military and police, ports and airports, power and communications, trade, educational system, even

language

Tagalogs,

yes,

Visayans, Igorots, Maguindanaos, Tausugs

everyone

caught

"not a leaf shall fall without Manila's permission".

The peoples of the Philippines have long suffered the horrific effects of graft and corruption, cultural decay and economic stagnation, armed conflicts, rising crime and lawlessness, etc. because the people themselves can not do anything against the well entrenched central government whose primary business is not to look after the well being of the population but to suck away its wealth and crack its military whip to 'discipline' recalcitrant colonial possessions such as the peoples of our Muslim south.

A large part of our taxes and income from natural resources are continuously

transferred to the coffers of the central government living the local governments just enough to keep them barely alive. We are all no more than outlaying "colonial factories" which the central government harvests from. Like cattle we are milked to the last drop and kept just barely breathing. If not for our galant compatriots abroad who send billions of dollars into the country we would all be starving by now while our ruling elite wallow in obscene wealth. Our provincial officials, governors and congressmen then go and literally 'beg' the powers in Manila for financial 'allocation'. If that is not a Master-Slave relationship, I don't know what that is.

Our national hero Jose P. Rizal once said "

slaves.". One hundred years on, we still hear his words but we never listen. The key to our freedom will not come from our present leaders, the Americans or the United nations, but from ourselves. Freedom for self-deternination can not be granted by anyone because that is not freedom but regulation. True freedon of self- determination can only come from us, the people, when we collectively assert that inherent God given right.

are no masters where there are no

there

Perhaps unknown to many, we have already asserted that right not once, not twice but three times in the past sixteen years. The first one was to overthrow the Marcos conjugal dictatorship. The second time to oust Joseph Estrada, a duly elected sitting President. The third time may have been viewed as unsuccessful but still it was the same People's Power. The same "dragon" which is still in the process of awakening and still groggy from the centuries of comatose existense. It is not yet fully awake, that is the reason why the ruling elite was able to ride on its wake and control it for their own self-same vested interests. Cardinal Sin and Cory Aquino did not create People Power, in fact they tried many times to get it up again but failed. The last one was ridden by leaders who had no proper comprehension of the power hence their failure.

Again David C. Martinez describes this raw power brilliantly

"It is the impatient, intermittent, and vastly more terrifying tsunami called people power, which has already driven from office two sitting presidents within a span of 15 years. Its occurrence is as random as its origins are obscure. Its contours are fluid, its nature amorphous, its potency immense, its consequences swift, certain, and severe. And therein lies its awesome power."

It is therefore this "power" which will liberate us from the suffocating hold of our de

facto colonial rulers from imperial Manila. Harnessed properly, this power will change not only our leaders but also our system, which is the real culprit which brings the perennial suffering of our people. The present system, although decribed as 'democratic' is nowhere near that. It has shackled us to this day. Our sham elections only caused the 'changing of the guards', ironically that is literally true.

This is therefore the reason why I have gone back to the past, to the deepest caverns of our cultural past which we have nearly lost and forgotten, to find a system which is more compatible with our temperament as a people. Even to this day we still hedge our socio-political structure to the basic family unit and the head of the family as our symbol of leadership and authority. That is the one single structure which held us as a people then and now.

When our forebears reached the shores of these islands hundreds of years ago the Barangay was our basic community organization and everything functioned around the system. It was and still is a good system for us. Keeping in mind that it is impossible to make tigers behave like lions by imposing rules, principles or laws, so too are we, as a people will find it very hard to function with rules foreign to us culturally. Western democratic principles are only good as long as it conforms to our temperament and culture and there are many aspects of it that do. Imposing the rules that don't has resulted in many countries now described as the 'third world' a great majority of which are former colonies, nearly all forced to behave like lions even if they are not. Nearly all exist like mental patients numb with the foreign 'medicine' which was supposed to make them well.

The system which I am about to present is therefore an attempt to bring us back to our cultural roots. A system which will fully awaken the dragon whom no ruling elite or vested interest can ride. We are the dragon, we are the power and as we shed the shackles, we empower ourselves for self determination and become at last, captains of our destiny either as a group of nations in federation or individual entities. Whatever we decide should we chose to follow our hearts it will be guaranteed that power will emanate not from above but from below. We are the ultimate power and let no one take that away from us again.

* * * * *

THE BARANGAY SYSTEM

The Barangay System of government is intended to resurrect the ancient traditions and rules that our forefathers have followed to bind ourselves as a people and as a nation. Although the spirit still lives in us as evidenced by our adherence to a paternalistic social structure and the way we "worship" the Christian God, it is nevertheless superimposed by a foreign culture with its own rules thereby blinding us from our true selves.

This system is a mix between our ancient cultural traditions and modern democratic principles. It is system culled from traditional Pacific and Southeast Asian socio- political structures. It is a system which will truly enshrine people's power in the conduct of our national affairs.

Necessitating the dismantling of the present system, it will call for the establishment of an entirely new system of government. While retaining and using

whatever it can in the present political infrastructure it mandates the abolishment of the present municipal, provincial and national setups.

It calls for the abolishment of the offices of the vice-mayors, vice-governors, congressmen, senators and vice-president. This in turn will necessitate the establishment of just the offices of Barangay Mayors, Barangay Governors and Barangay President.

The Office of the Barangay President will only be largely ceremonial and primarily concerned with foreign affairs and National defense. The day-to-day national government policy making chores will be the sole responsibility of the "Assembly of Barangay Governors" which will replace the present Congress.

One very important aspect of this new system is the creation of a "Two Component Governmental Structure". The "Political" side mainly concerns itself with policy making and the other component which is called the "Professional" side concerns itself solely with the running and implementation of the laws and policies created by the other. In effect, the system calls for the "professionalization" of government administration thereby taking away the "politics" which often bogs down administrative functions.

Another casualty in this system change are the political parties. It will become redundant and unnecessary as the elections are only held in the sitio level, the basic cell of the system. A visible advantage is that elections will not be expensive and complicated anymore. No more expensive campaigns, no more printing of sample ballots or genuine ballots as the sitio can easily elect an elder without attracting any expenses other than those incurred to attend the meeting.

The true governmental political power [policy making]will rest with the national Assembly of Governors in consultation with the collective wisdom of the citizens of their own respective provinces. In its truest sense, from the very people who originally elected them to be Sitio Elders from which they have moved on to become Barangay Mayors, Barangay Governors. The mechanics of this system is explained in detail below.

The Professional component of the system ensures that road building be done by engineers, laws implemented by lawyers, education by real teachers, defense by professional soldiers and civil security by specially trained police, health issues by medical professionals, foreign affairs by career diplomats, the treasury and financial affairs by real economists, etc. Most of this jobs are at present interfered with if not done or controlled by our corrupt politicians.

The Barangay Civil Service department will be created and properly equipped to fully qualify professionals for these civil service jobs. It will play a major role in the area of equal opportunity employment at the same time taking away the politics and corrupt practices of politicians meddling with affairs outside their turf. Even the

Offices of the Supreme Court Justices will be based on qualifications and not by political appointments. If one doesn’t make the grade, he doesn't get the office. This rule will be observed in all departments.

ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE

A: The political Component

Respect for Elders form the Barangay System's very basic foundation and the respect for the voice of the Barangay members by the elders creates the very source of his power to govern and lead the community. Withdrawal of confidence by the members removes the power outright necessitating the granting of the same powers to another Elder. People power from the smallest political cell, by itself making it unnecessary to launch a huge people's movement to remove erring officials wherever they are, up to the office of the Barangay President. After all they are and will always be the Elder their sitio members elected, who in turn will have the preferential right to withdraw confidence, instantly removing him from the office he occupies.

Without disturbing the present political structure, the "Sitio" therefore becomes the basic cell where this system starts to come alive. It is [only] in the sitio level where [direct elections] are conducted to elect the elders to represent each sitio in the next level which is the Barangay Council. The logic here is that the sitio citizens are in the best position to select whom they know and trust to represent them. (The present system allows one to vote for someone whom they don't know.) This is similar if not the same as the "Council of Chiefs" of the Pacific peoples. From this point on, the government becomes mainly a 'representative" one.

The organizational structure of the Barangay Council will become the basic organizational structures of the municipalities, cities, provinces and national government. The council will be composed of all the elders duly and directly elected by all the sitios comprising the Barangay.

The Barangay Council once convened will in turn [select] among themselves, three Elders best qualified to represent the Barangay in the municipal or city Council. Once selected, the Elders will then go back to their respective sitio and ask the member-citizens to choose among the three and make a vote. The choice is then presented in the Barangay Council, each Elder bearing an envelope containing the choice. The selection will then be made and decided by majority "vote" based on the envelopes brought in by the elders. Please note that the elders never make final decisions, their roles only advisory and carriers of decisions made on the sitio level.

The same principles will apply in the municipal, city and provincial levels. The final decisions will always come from the sitio in effect making each and every citizen active in governmental affairs. It may seem cumbersome but once learned and accepted the system will work and solve many problems now besetting the country.

What happens to the other two choices who didn't win the vote? They will automatically become "Deputy Barangay Captains, Deputy Barangay Mayors" and so on up the ladder simply because somebody has to be left behind to conduct the normal affairs while the captain is representing the barangay or the mayor representing the municipality. There will be no absence of leaders.

One huge hurdle for the system in order for it to work is that it is necessary for the population, the citizens, to be massively and properly educated to be able to know what is to be done from the very first day they step into Grade One. Education must be made free and available to all up to the high school level.

This should not be a problem considering that the most expensive governmental infrastructure--Congress, will have been abolished and the double governmental functions of Councilors, board members and congressmen will also be gone as it will be replaced by the direct representatives of the people, the Elders, Bgy. Captains, mayors and Governors. The savings will be more than enough to educate our people twice over.

B: The Professional Component

All governmental departments and agencies will be depoliticized. The Armed Forces and the police will be professionalized. Members of the Armed Forces will be availed of proper education and professional training so that when they decide to leave the service they can be absorbed in the national workforce as soon as they become civilians. Many Soldiers are at present unable to adjust to civilian life because they know nothing but soldiering. This has caused many of our problems today. They have no where to spend their talents, some unfortunately resort to crime to support themselves.

The police will be decentralized and put under the control of local governments. Communities policed by their own is less susceptible to corruption and abuse simply because it is not our nature to exploit or abuse our own kinsmen.

Although generally national in scope and guidance, many departments can be under the control of provincial governments, which will be largely autonomous if not totally independent. Departments of Trade, Tourism or even Finance, Civil Service and the Courts can be put under the Bgy. Provincial Government so that each province is free to develop and create its general policies to find the best way to develop its economy and look after the well being of its citizens.

Financially, the provinces will not be required to remit most of its income to the national coffers but keep most of it for its own use remitting only a minimal portion for the upkeep of national expenses mainly concerning the Armed Forces and Foreigh Affairs.

Down the road, there will be provinces which will be richer than others but the overall effect will be the empowerment of the citizens to work harder and better because the benefits are retained and distributed right at home. Due to the nature of the new setup, corruption in government will be greatly diminished if not completely eradicated because even a hint of corruption can bring instant adverse reaction from the sitio citizens who can withdraw confidence instantly thereby removing a suspect official from office. But the overriding logic here is that one does not still from his kinsmen or his family.

In cases where a sitio fails to take down an erring Elder, mechanism can be setup such as a majority vote of the immediate surrounding sitios to remove the suspect Elder. With an empowered people, we should not be short of mechanisms to correct irregularities that occur from day-to-day.

Again to repeat the words of Mr. Martinez:

"Its contours are fluid, its nature amorphous, its potency immense, its consequences swift, certain, and severe. And therein lies its awesome power."

Yes, true people power enshrined in the system will indeed be "fluid" to quickly adjust to circumstances. Complete powers, being now granted to the provincial governments, leaves can indeed fall without any permission from anyone but the people directly concerned.

This is a very basic and condensed presentation of a system which seeks to cure the grave illness of a fabricated country-state which holds various nations in captivity. Nations who clamor for freedom, nations who scream for the right of self- determination, nations who are struggling to shed the shackles which have imprisoned it for centuries, nations whom Mr. Martinez diagnosed as "critical" and concluded its prognosis as "terminal".

But I would like to think that only the present system's prognosis is "terminal" and so we should let it take its course of natural demise so we can put up a new system, The Barangay System which is more compatible with our temperament and culture as a people, as individual nations so that we can have at last a genuine country of our own.