Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año is expressing support to a Senate bill filed by Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III which seeks to classify barangay officials as regular government employees with fixed salaries and benefits.
Año says the proposed Magna Carta for Barangays authored by Pimentel proposes, among others, to declare barangay officials as regular government personnel because of the important role of barangay officials in promoting the welfare of their constituents and for good governance.
“Barangays as the basic political unit are the bedrock of governance and nation-building and are expected by the people to perform many basic services. It is high time that barangay officials be granted the same benefits of a government employee,” he says.
According to Año, barangay officials are the government’s frontliners and do the legwork in serving the people and granting them the same benefits as any other government employee “is only fair to recognize their vital role in carrying out the government's basic services down to communities."
“Most of the national government’s efforts require the support and involvement of barangays and so barangay officials should get the same benefits of regular government employees,” he points out.
The proposed Magna Carta for Barangays proposes that the punong barangay, sangguniang barangay members, Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson, barangay secretary, and barangay treasurer in all barangays will be declared regular government employees.
The said bill also suggests that a punong barangay should get a salary equal to that of a sangguniang bayan member of his municipality or city, while sangguniang barangay members should receive a salary equivalent to 80 percent of the salary of their sangguniang bayan members. As for Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) chairpersons, barangay secretary, and barangay treasurer, they should be entitled to take home an equivalent of 75 percent of the salary of their sangguniang bayan members.
The said provision also states that as regular government employees, they are "entitled to fixed salaries, allowances, insurance, medical and dental coverage, retirement benefits and such other fringe benefits to which a regular government employee may be entitled to."
“Like any other workers be it in private or government firms, compensation is a big factor to motivate employees. Kaya inaasahang mas magiging matino, mahusay, at maaasahan ang mga opisyal ng barangay kung maipasa ang panukalang batas na ito,” he says.
The DILG Secretary also expresses his amenability to Section 11 of the bill proposing the mandatory share of the barangays in all taxes, fees, or other charges.
However, Año clarifies that the Salary Grade and the rate of the mandatory share of barangays needs to be consulted with the Department of Finance and leagues of local government units to know whether the proposed 25 percent share of a barangay in all taxes collected on real property located within their barangay is sustainable.
"In principle, we support Section 11 of the Magna Carta for Barangays on the 25 percent share of a barangay in all its real property tax collections. But as we know, anything that has to do with monetary policy has to be carefully vetted. Hindi natin alam kung kakayanin nga ba iyong 25 percent in the long run," he explains.
"Other than that, we support the measure of Senator Koko because it would allow 42,044 barangays in the country to deliver better basic services to our people, especially in 4th to 6th class municipalities which have limited financial capacities," he says.
Other sections of the bill are drinking water for the barangays; transportation for barangay; schools, health centers and barangay halls for barangays; and equitable share of the barangay from the proceeds of the utilization and development of national wealth, among others.