Manila councilor wants fewer barangays

- Evelyn Macairan () - August 15, 2007 - 12:00am

A councilor in Manila said yesterday they are asking Congress to defer the barangay elections in the city until late next year to give them time to amend an ordinance supporting the reduction of barangays from 897 to 150.

Neophyte District 6 Councilor Marisa Papa, who is also the incumbent president of the Liga ng mga Barangay in Manila, is pushing for the amendment of Ordinance 7907 that seeks the division, merger and consolidation of 897 barangays in the city. Ordinance 7907, passed on April 23, 1996, was never implemented because they failed to hold a plebiscite.

Since they are still in the stage of restructuring the composition of barangays in the city, Papa said they have coordinated with the representatives from Manila’s six congressional districts to sponsor a bill that would exempt Manila from joining the Oct. 29 national barangay elections.

“We asked the six congressmen to exempt Manila from the coming elections to pave the way in merging. When we merge, we will ask the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to set the date,” said Papa, who chairs the barangay affairs committee in the city council.

She said once they get the nod of Congress, they will then ask the Comelec to set another barangay election date for Manila residents. Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim reportedly supports the plan to amend the ordinance.

Papa suggested that the barangay elections be held by the third or fourth quarter of next year.

Papa, incumbent chairman of Barangay 605 zone 60, said Manila has one of the biggest number of barangays in the country and this has caused them to spread the funds thinly among the community.

“We want to give Manilans the best basic services... We would have a bigger budget for each barangay if there are lesser barangays,” she added.

Once they remove the 747 barangays, Papa said they would be able to “professionalize” the candidates who would be running in the neighborhood elections and offer them better salaries to them.

At present, a barangay chairman receives a monthly salary of P1,000 and an honorarium between P2,000 to P3,000. But if they succeed in merging the communities, they could increase their salaries to may be P5,000 to P15,000 every month.

“We are now preparing all the technical data on income and land area,” and are set to hold public consultations and form a technical working group to discuss the concerns of the different sectors to thresh out problems in the implementation of the ordinance, she said.

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