By Joe Espiritu
The other day we attended a court hearing. It was perhaps a simple case but what makes it interesting is the circumstances. We will not discuss the merits of the case since it is still going on. What is puzzling is the circumstances. It runs like this:
An upland barangay of a nearby town held a benefit dance. The affair was allegedly disrupted by a policeman. The policeman was charged in court of violation of the law in a Municipal Circuit Trial Court by three barangay officials. Because of a full calendar or lack of judges or both the case dragged. A barangay election came and the barangay officials either lost or choose not to run. At any rate they are no longer barangay officials.
The case is People of the Philippines vs the policeman. The accusers were barangay officials. That was originally. Now it is the People of the Philippines who are the accuser. If we interpret it right. The original accusers are now witnesses. Perhaps those people may choose not to pursue the case, they are no longer barangay officials. It takes time and money to come down from the upland barangay of the nearby town to attend hearings in Jagna. However, those people decide to see the case to the end out of civic spirit.
We wonder if the present barangay administration of that place is supporting those three. We also wonder if the present barangay administration is also interested in pursuing the case. We hope that those present officials are aware that it was the barangay whose rights were allegedly violated, not the rights of the previous officials.
We also hope that there is at least a barangay ordinance, which provides assistance to officials encountering difficulties in the performance of their duty or ex officials who will continue to pursue the case. This way, wrongdoers would not be thumbing their noses on those who have lost the election. It is not fair to let the poor slobs continue without support.
To be a barangay official, a barangay captain specifically is not an easy task. No one is trained for that office from the very start. We elect him and expect him to perform and we a free with brickbats if he falls flat on his face. Well there are compensations, to be called Cap is quite a boost on one's ego but the Cap can be haled to the Ombudsman, or for not allowing one to get sand or strangled by an irate kagawad during a session or called a moron by an idiot elected by oxymorons.
To stay as a Cap, one has to attend seminars until he can no longer understand seminars. He functions, as the king of the coop but has no veto powers. During elections he is a dispenser of largesse though his is suspected of pocketing a lion's share. Then, barangay elections are always an afterthought. Barangay elections are often postponed because of lack of funds. Those who are impatient to replace are waiting in the sideliners and doing some sniping to make his waiting worthwhile. Someday there will be examinations for candidacy. Someday we can be able to elect a Cap who will be able to locate the barangay hall without asking around.