ORMOC CITY – 28 small barangays in this city named “poblacion districts” have taken the first step into becoming “super-barangays”, after submitting resolutions this week to the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) that they were amenable to merging and that the measure is submitted to a plebiscite.
The proposal is to name the merged barangays into Barangay East, West, and South. The last district-barangay, District 29, is not included in the mergers having ample population but will be renamed as Barangay North.
This is the third attempt by Ormoc City officials in three administrations to have the poblacion districts merged, but the two previous proposals were rejected.
Mayor Richard I. Gomez lauded the district-barangay officials for acting decisively on the matter this time, saying this is a first in the country, and that the officials have shown they were indeed public servants in the truest sense of the word by putting the welfare of their barangays first over personal interests.
“I am sure hindi naging madali ang desisyon nila. But I am glad they finally saw the need to do the mergers if they are to serve the needs of their constituents effectively,” the mayor said.
Gomez said that the poblacion districts were finally convinced to give the proposed mergers a chance, because of the LGU-commissioned survey of constituents’ perception on how effective their barangays were. The survey results were given to the City Local Government Office for analysis.
The mayor also created a study group led by Liga ng Barangay president Esteban Laurente who went to Baguio City last December. Baguio City has also started moving towards a merger of its poblacion barangays.
“Anyway, there will be a plebiscite. Ultimately, it will be the people in the district-barangays who will decide if they want the mergers or not. We just need to present to them the pros and cons,” Gomez said.
Good Governance Study
The City Local Government Office here, in a briefing on the results of the “good governance study”, said the survey took into consideration the parameters cited by the Seal of Local Good Governance (SGLG) and Local Government Code. The analysis was presented by CLGOO Jean Redi Briones to the barangay chairmen last week.
He said a sample survey of 1,466 respondents was done to gauge the constituents’ perception into their barangays’ governance and services.
Briones said that while 80% of the respondents said they were satisfied with the performance of the barangay officials; 97% said they wanted better services from their barangays; 26% cited inaccessibility of health services; 43% were not able to avail of social services; and 80% were never able to avail of livelihood services or programs.
The study also found out that there were barangays with insufficient funds, and some had decreasing number of residents. There was also the lack of space for the establishment of infrastructure vital to effective governance. Some were just renting office spaces for their barangay halls and lacked qualified residents to render services.
According to Briones, their study showed that of the 28 barangays, only 16 had barangay halls, 9 were renting space for their meetings, and 3 had none. In addition, not a single one posted 100% compliance as to the required VAWC desk, health center, daycare, and other facilities.
They even lacked elected barangay officials. Only 14 had a complete line-up of elected officials. District 3 and District 6 only have 4 and 6 Sangguniang Barangay members (SBM), respectively, and 27 had incomplete SK officials. Finally, 14 barangay SKs “have limited functions due to lack of quorum”.
Some barangays were also commercialized already that they had few inhabitants. District 3 has a voting population of 22, District 6 has 23, District 2 has 30, and, District 5 has 32. Only District 28 had more than a thousand voting population with 1,364.
The study also showed that while some city districts lacked sufficient funds, some had more than they are allowed to spend.
The Super Barangays
Briones said that to make the merged districts financially viable and able to deliver more of the services expected from them, they are proposing the creation of “super barangays” where they will be merged into the East, West and South barangays.
“Super” Barangay South will consist of the contiguous Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 15, 17, 23, and 24. It will have a combined voting population of 2,383 to comply with a requirement of the Local Government Code that a barangay must have at least 2,000 population. The merged barangay will have a combined Internal Revenue Allocation (IRA) of Php 9.3-million.
Barangay East will consist of Districts 9, 10, 11, 16, 18, 25, 27 and 28 with a combined voting population of 3,126. It will have a combined IRA of Php 11.2-million.
Barangay West will consist of Districts 14, 20, 21, 22, 19, and 26 with a combined voting population of 2,280. They will have a combined IRA of Php 10.7-million.
With the combined resources of the super barangays, said Briones, they are expected to be able to give more services and create positions for qualified residents like a nurse for their health centers, give higher honoraria to their daycare workers and tanod, and many more. The barangays, like LGUs and other government agencies, are allowed to spend 55% of their IRA on personnel services.