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EDITORIAL: Barangay and SK Elections Could be the Saving Grace of Philippine Democracy

The first barangay elections under the new 1987 constitution were held on March 28, 1989, under Republic Act No. 6679. The constitutional provision gave a material interpretation of popular democracy.

It was touted as the correcting factor of the ills of local, legislative, and national elections. It was, and still is a saving grace of Philippine democracy as its objective is to give more power and autonomy to the smallest administrative unit of the government.

Since 1982 the barangay elections have been held every three years, except when they were postponed or canceled by law for various reasons. The last barangay elections were held in October 2013. The next barangay elections are scheduled to be held on October 30, 2023, along with the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections. This youth council elects an SK chairperson and seven SK councilors in each barangay.

The barangay and SK elections have been postponed several times – “based on valid reasons”. Unfortunately, the postponements did not provide evaluations of the goals and objectives of the law. It did not submit a report on the performance of the barangays or the SK. Hence, the promise of grassroots and people empowerment and development has never been studied, publicized, and evaluated.

The performance of the barangay and youth officials was left to the result of succeeding elections of the incumbent officials. If they are reelected (as for the Barangay officials), they are assumed to have performed well. If they were repudiated by the local electors, it assumed that they did not accomplish anything.

Fortunately, in spite of this glaring flaw, the local democracy is still working. It does not follow that there are reports of corruption, irresponsible acts, or non-development of their areas and constituencies.

Barangay and SK elections are supposed to be non-political, or outside of the influence of local politicians or government functionaries. But in reality, it does not happen. Moneyed politicians and powerful business clans are still playing their roles as power brokers.



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