By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The House Committee on Local Government has approved a substitute bill seeking to increase the benefits and incentives for barangay officials and workers.
The panel, chaired by South Cotabato and General Santos City Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr., passed the unnumbered bill, which substituted 71 House measures. It amends Section 393 of Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, as amended.
The Acharon panel agreed to increase the monthly benfits (honoraria, allowances and other emoluments) of punong barangays or barangay captains from the original proposal of P6,000 to a minimum of P10,000.
It also decided to increase the benefits of sangguniang barangay members, barangay treasurer, and barangay secretary from P4,000 to P6,000.
Under the substitute bill, the benefits of barangay tanods and members of the Lupon ng Tagapamayapa shall be increased from the previous proposal of P3,000 to P6,000.
The Acharon panel decided to delete the provision exempting the punong barangay, sangguniang barangay members, barangay treasurer, and barangay secretary from paying tuition and matriculation fees for their legitimate dependent children attending state colleges or universitues, as such benefit is already covered in the Local Government Code of 1991.
Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, one of the original proponents of bill, welcomed the House panel’s approval of the measure, saying that it would enhance the morale and living standards of barangay officials and workers.
“In the system of government here in the Philippines, barangay officials and workers are in the frontline of delivering services to the communities. Being in the forefront, they need as much help as possible so they can consistently and effectively do their tasks. This legislation here is a step towards that goal and I hope that barangay officials and workers will also be uplifted by its approval,” he said.
Kabayan partylist Rep. Ron Salo, one of the authors of the bill, said since the functions of barangay officials cut across the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, they deserve to receive regular benefits and fixed compensation from the government.
He noted that in 1996, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) granted a Salary Grade 14 compensation for barangay captains and Salary Grade 10 for other barangay officials, including council members, secretaries and treasurers.
“Payments at these new rates, however, are subject to the availability of funds of the local government unit concerned. As such, their compensation is subject to the whims and caprices of those in power, ” Salo said.
“Given the enormity of their responsibilities and functions, as well as the services they render to the barangay which embrace all three branches of government, it is only just and right that these officials are treated as regular government employees, ” he said.
Under his HB 6033, all barangay officials shall be entitled to the following salaries: Punong Barangay, Salary Grade 15; Sangguniang Barangay members, Salary Grade 12; Barangay Secretary,Salary Grade 10; and Barangay Treasurer, Salary Grade 10.
The measure provides that all government insurance and health insurance coverage shall be extended to all barangay officials.
“The important role of barangays in nation building necessitates that we recognize the services of its officials by adopting measures that will promote their welfare, ” Salo said.