DILG hits barangay officials over unmanned barangay halls in time of pandemic

Published April 3, 2021, 1:47 PM

by Chito Chavez

Complaints against barangays that were not operating full-time as mandated by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) continue to pile up as many citizens have been complaining over absentee local officials in the time of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III (FACEBOOK/ MANILA BULLETIN)

On April 2, DILG Undersecretary for operations Epimaco Densing III emphasized that skeletal forces should man the barangays 24-hours a day to cater to the needs and concerns of their constituents especially during emergency cases.

However, a Quezon City resident on Saturday April 3 complained that his telephone calls well left unanswered several times as he admitted to be in a “panicky state’’ with his wife running high fever for several days.

“I was calling the barangay but no one was answering. I wanted to seek assistance on how my wife can get a swab test. As far as I know the office should be manned by a kagawad the whole day even during holidays,’’ the resident who requested anonymity said.

Informed of the concern, Barangay Quirino 2-b officer-in-charge (OIC) Oscar Reyes said that “workforces are present 24 hours a day in his office.’’

“Kapag may dumulog sa barangay may tao naman na magaasikaso sa kanila. Pag kailangan ang kagawad (village councilor) sa usapin niraradyuhan sila at nakakarating naman ng mabibilis (If someone goes to the barangay somebody will attend to their needs. The kagawad are able to confer with the concerned parties as the need arises when informed through radio messages),’’ Reyes said.

Reyes explained that the telephone lines are out of service from time to time but are easily restored in a few minutes.

“Yung telepono ng mga tanod (village security personnel) talagang not working. Pero gumagana yung (telephone line) sa (barangay) administration office (The telephone lines in the office of the tanod are not working but the line in the administration office is functioning),’’ he added.

Reyes said that the caller might have dialed the telephone numbers of the barangays.

Through the intercession of a neighbor, Kagawad Maria Elena was able to address the concern of the complaining resident.

“I cannot tell if the swab test on any person comes out positive. Let us leave it at that,’’ Oreta said.

Juine Diola a tricycle driver from Barangay Botocan also in Quezon City slammed barangay officials for being “matulungin (helpful)” during the (election) campaign period but “hindi mahagilap’’(nowhere to be found) in other times of the year.

He urged the DILG to also look into reports that barangay officials are using the assistance provided by the national government to boost their political stock.

On April 1, Densing admitted that the government cannot prevent the politicization of the cash or in-kind assistance in connection with the 2022 elections.

Rather than pondering its political use, Densing said that the focus is to ensure that the aid reaches the hands of the intended beneficiaries and not in the pockets of rogue officials and their cohorts.

But Densing noted that said they can still file cases against local officials who use the national government’s cash or in kind assistance to advance their political mileage.