Barangay officials told to prioritize merger plan

BAGUIO CITY June 07 – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan urged the new set of barangay officials in the city to prioritize the long overdue proposal for the merger of the city's 128 barangays to allow the smallest political subdivisions to conform with the minimum standards prescribed under the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 7160 or the Local Government Code of the Philippines.

The local chief executive explained the new set of barangay officials should not fear their possible displacement from office because it is clear that the merger of the barangays will be implemented in the next term of barangay officials, thus, they will not be affected even if the merger plan will be ratified by the city's electorate during a referendum that will be called for the purpose.

Based on the latest accomplishment of the task force barangay merger created by the mayor to study the realistic number of barangays allowed to exist in the city, the initial findings showed that the number of independent barangays in the city will range from 34 to 50 depending on what will be agreed during future consultations while there will be 3 to 7 barangays in the present composition that can exist as independent barangays during the implementation of the merger.

Under the law, a barangay must have a minimum population of at least 5,000 individuals to be legitimately called a barangay and that Punong barangays can be compensated with an honoraria equivalent to Salary Grade 12 in the government's salary scale while barangay kagawads and other appointed officials will be allowed to claim an honoraria of not more than the salary of personnel in the scale of Salary Grade 10.

Aside from improving the compensation of barangay officials, Domogan explained that one of the advantages of the proposed merger of the city's existing barangays will be the ability of barangays to fund a huge portion of their priority development projects and improve the delivery of basic services to their constituents because of the increased Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) from internal and external sources.

Because of the significant increase in their compensation and the wider scope of their jurisdiction, Domogan claimed that being a barangay official should be a full time job unlike in the present set up wherein there are a number of barangay officials who have other jobs to augment their meager income from their barangays which cam result to the poor delivery of services to their constituents.

The proposal to merge the city's barangays can be traced way back in 1997 where previous barangay officials tried to merge the existing number of barangays to only 52 but most of the officials then were not in favor of the merger plan because of issues on jurisdiction and the displacement of incumbent barangay officials although it was also part of the condition that the merger will take effect in the next term.

He said that the enactment of an ordinance detailing how the barangays will be merged will be sufficient while the merger will be subjected to a referendum by the city's electorate right after the conduct of information and education campaign.

By Dexter A. See

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