By Herman M. Lagon
THE UPCOMING Barangay Elections set this Monday, October 30, 2023, present a critical opportunity for the Filipino people to choose their leaders in the country’s smallest government unit. While we often focus on the personalities and politics of these elections, it is crucial to remember the qualities needed for barangay officials to fulfill their roles effectively.
In our quest for accountable and competent leaders, we must consider not only the people running for these positions but also their track record, integrity, and learning proficiency. These qualities form the foundation of good governance, essential for the progress and well-being of our barangays.
Barangay officials must have a proven track record of service and goodness in both words and deeds. Actions speak louder than words, and a history of selfless service to the least, the last, and the lost members of our community is a testament to a candidate’s commitment to public welfare. Look beyond the campaign promises and scrutinize their past actions. This is easier to do, primarily if one evaluates a former or an incumbent barangay official.
Integrity, on the other hand, encompasses honesty and the courage to dissent against corrupt practices. A candidate’s commitment to doing justice and promoting good governance should be evident in their actions. An official who stands up against corruption and upholds ethical standards in private and public life is a beacon of hope for a better barangay.
Meanwhile, having a barangay official with a lifelong learning mindset is a green flag. Learning proficiency is not limited to academic records; it reflects a candidate’s mindset toward continuous improvement. Lifelong learners are open to new ideas, adaptable, inclusive, objective, and resourceful. In our rapidly changing world, barangay officials need this mindset to address evolving challenges effectively.
However, there may need to be more than track record, integrity, and learning proficiency for effective and efficient governance. A candidate must also have the core competencies of barangay officials, whether they are running as barangay chairpersons, kagawads, or Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) representatives.
Firstly, they must possess the ability to craft ordinances and resolutions that align with the community’s needs while upholding values that promote the common good. This skill ensures the regulations make sense and benefit the barangay’s residents.
Secondly, barangay annual planning is crucial. Officials must be adept at creating and implementing annual plans that set clear objectives and priorities for the community’s development. These plans act as roadmaps, guiding decision-making, and resource allocation throughout the year.
Additionally, project and program proposal skills are essential. Competency in this area ensures that the barangay’s limited resources are allocated wisely, effectively addressing the most pressing needs. This also means having a resource advantage in soliciting external funding to benefit the community. Corollary to this, public and interpersonal relations are equally vital, as officials must build positive relationships with the public, stakeholders, and partners, relying on solid communication skills to foster trust, linkage, and collaboration.
Furthermore, availability and accessibility are hallmarks of effective leadership. Officials should be readily available, even excited, to serve the community by attending meetings, signing necessary documents, and actively participating in barangay civic activities. Principled leadership and management are equally crucial as skills, with leaders standing firmly on principled grounds, upholding the rule of law, following systematic processes, and consistently acting in the community’s best interests.
In addition to these competencies, the ability to organize local projects and activities is essential for barangay development. Leaders must demonstrate competence in planning, organizing, and executing initiatives that benefit the community. In today’s digital age, technical and creative skills are necessary to enhance and modernize barangay services, making them more efficient and accessible to the residents. Lastly, influential officials possess problem-solving and conflict management skills, enabling them to address and resolve issues that inevitably arise within the community, ensuring a harmonious and well-functioning barangay.
As we cast our votes in the upcoming elections, we are highly encouraged to prioritize candidates with these qualities and competencies, much so that they are considered by many as endangered or near-extinction political species. Good governance starts at the barangay level, and our choices on October 30 will shape the future of our communities.
In the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any distinctions, to take part in the conduct of public affairs.” Voting wisely for candidates who embody good governance principles is our contribution to building a better barangay and, hopefully and prayerfully, a better Philippines.
Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world that is grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.