MANILA Senator Aquilino Pimentel III on Wednesday cited the need to address the growing clamor for barangay (village) officials to become regular government employees so that they could receive monthly salaries and benefits.
In an ambush interview, Pimentel said barangay officials have a crucial role to play as "front liners" of the government.
"There is a clamor. We have to listen to the clamor and try to grant the justified request that they be treated like any other government employees who have 24/7 jobs," Pimentel told reporters.
Under his proposed Magna Carta for Barangays, a barangay chairman would earn as much as a Sangguniang Bayan councilor.
The bill also proposes that members of the Sangguniang Barangay should receive an amount equivalent to 80 percent of the salary of their Sangguniang Bayan members while the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) chair, barangay secretary, and barangay treasurer should have a pay amounting to 75 percent of the salary of their Sangguniang Bayan members.
According to the Government Code, barangay captains and the other barangay officials do not officially receive salaries but they are entitled to honoraria and other allowances, as defined by their barangays. The amount must be at least PHP1,000.
Pimentel, however, noted that the cost to fund the regularization of barangay officials is a major problem.
"Because of the equal protection of the laws, if you give X amount to one barangay, you have to give it to 42,000 barangays," Pimentel said.
"Inaamin ko po na maganda sa konsepto (I admit that the concept is good), but the difficulty is the cost because times 42,000, times the number of heads," he added.
Pimentel said there is no estimated cost yet, but he is looking at the possibility of sourcing the funds from both the national and local governments.
He also seeks to empower the barangays in the dispensation of funds by allowing the automatic release of their share from national taxes and the transfer of those appropriated for maintenance of roads and bridges within its area of jurisdiction.
The proposed measure will also guarantee mandatory share of barangays in taxes, fees and other charges collected from residents or entities operating within the area.
The bill guarantees the provision of basic necessities, such as regular supply of clean and potable water, public transportation, schools, health centers, and barangay halls to every barangay. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency