A measure pending before the House Committee on Local Government seeks to highlight the importance of the barangay as the basic political unit.
Filed by Bataan 1st district Rep. Geraldine Roman, House Bill (HB) No.228 is the proposed Act to establish the Magna Carta for Barangays.
“To be able to deliver basic services to the people efficiently, the barangay should be empowered and enabled to stand on its own,” said Roman, chairperson of the House Committee on Women and Gender Equality.
She said by the nature of their work, the safety and security of the barangay officials are always at risk.
“One glaring example for this is in the fight against drugs. It is the barangay officials who have the list of actual or possible drug peddlers and users in the community," the lady legislator from Bataan noted.
Complaints against those involved in drugs are more often than not lodged with them before it reach the police. It is these barangay officials who are the first in line when it comes to receiving reports of crimes that are being committed or have just been committed, Roman said.
“Sadly, despite the services that they render with the accompanying danger to themselves and their family members, barangay officials are a sorely neglected lot. The benefits that they currently receive from the government are not commensurate to what is due them," she said.
The Roman bill seeks to define certain basic services and privileges that barangays and their residents are entitled to.
Facilities for potable water, health centers, educational centers and schools, barangay halls, and means for public commuting should be in place to promote the general welfare of the barangay, she said.
The measure particularly underscores the right of every barangay to have a regular supply of clean and potable drinking water. To attain this goal, every city and municipality, as the case may be, is hereby required to construct and/or maintain at least one deep well with pumping device for drawing drinking water to supply the needs of every 1,000 residents for each barangay within its jurisdiction.
It further says that every barangay is entitled to have at least one elementary school; provided, that there shall be at least one high school for every five kilometers from the barangay center. It shall also be the right of every barangay to have one health center and one barangay hall, the bill said.