Gearing up for the BSKE

BAR NONE - Atty. Ian Vincent Manticajon - The Freeman

The last day for the filing of certificates of candidacy for the Synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) passed without any remarkable incidents last Saturday, September 2. The election period began on August 28 and will end on November 29.

During this period, take note of the following prohibitions: 1.) Bearing, carrying, or transporting firearms or other deadly weapons in public places (including buildings, streets, parks, private vehicles, or public conveyances), even if licensed to possess or carry them, unless authorized in writing by the Comelec; 2.) Candidates' use of security personnel or bodyguards, unless certain exemptions are granted by the Comelec’s Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Concerns (CBFSC); 3.) Raising funds through activities such as dances, lotteries, cockfights, etc.; 4.) Vote-buying and vote-selling; 5.) Transferring or detailing officers and employees in the civil service, including public school teachers; 6.) Suspending local elective officials.

During the campaign period from October 19 to 28, the following prohibitions also apply: 1.) Removing, destroying, obliterating, defacing, tampering with, or preventing the distribution of lawful election propaganda; 2.) Posting, displaying, or distributing illegal campaign materials; and 3.) Releasing, disbursing, or spending public funds.

Both during the campaign period and on the day before and of the election, the following acts are banned: 1.) Making any donation or gift in cash or in kind; 2.) Appointing or using special policemen, special/confidential agents, or similar personnel; 3.) Using armored land, water, or aircraft; and 4.) Policemen and provincial guards serving as bodyguards for public officials or candidates.

Even though the electoral exercise operates on a small scale given that each barangay is the smallest political unit in our system, barangay and SK governance play crucial roles in our government. And while the BSKE is intended to be non-partisan, partisan politics often find their way in, primarily because barangays form the foundation of political machineries. It is also a given that barangays often lack the resources to address their communities' specific challenges. They rely on local and national officials for support in implementing their desired projects and programs.

The concept of the barangay as a form of governance traces back to the days before the Philippines was colonized. Historians believe that the term “barangay” derived from "balangai", a boat type used by early Malay settlers. These boats frequently transported community leaders, their families, and others, often settling along the coastlines. These early communities were governed by a "datu", a chief of royal lineage, responsible for establishing rules, arbitrating disputes, and leading the community. (Porio & Sarmiento, 2019) Today, the barangay is governed by a barangay captain and a council made up of seven members and a youth leader. It also serves as a local justice system where respected community members help individuals discuss and resolve disputes.

The barangay is central to local governance in the country, handling services, planning, and budgeting while also collecting community data. In other words, barangays serve as the eyes and ears on the ground for both local and national politicians and policymakers. Barangays also play a vital role in disaster preparedness, crafting specific action plans based on local disaster risk data, and overseeing monitoring, prevention, and rescue efforts. They also compile local data on issues like poverty and development, which informs and monitors community programs aimed at poverty reduction. Moreover, barangays can be used to implement a system that allows for ground-up planning and budgeting, allowing them to identify specific community projects.

This is how important the BSKE is to our country. And come October 30, please choose wisely, and may the best people win!

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