Barangay

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Brief history of barangay and barangay elections

An a unit of government, the barangay antedated the Spanish conquest of the Philippines.[1] The word "barangay" is derived from the Malay "balangay," a boat which transported them (the Malays) to these shores.[2] The barangay was ruled by a dato who exercised absolute powers of government.[3] While the Spaniards kept the barangay as the basic structure of government, they stripped the dato or rajah, of his powers.[4] Instead, power was centralized nationally in the governor general and locally in the encomiendero and later, in the alcalde mayor and the gobernadorcillo. The dato or rajah was much later renamed cabeza de barangay, who was elected by the local citizens possessing property. The position degenerated from a title of honor to that of a "mere government employee. Only the poor who needed a salary, no matter how low, accepted the post."[5]

After the Americans colonized the Philippines, the barangays became known as "barrios."[6] For some time, the laws governing barrio governments were found in the Revised Administrative Code of 1916 and later in the Revised Administrative Code of 1917.[7] Barrios were granted autonomy by the original Barrio Charter[8] and formally recognized as quasi-municipal corporations by the Revised Barrio Charter.[9] During the martial law regime, barrios were "declared" or renamed "barangays" — a reversion really to their pre-Spanish names,[10], but their basic organization and functions[11] which was expressly "adopted as the Barangay Charter, were retained.[12] However, the titles of the officials were changed to "barangay captain," "barangay councilman," "barangay secretary" and "barangay treasurer."[13]

A Punong Barangay (Barangay Captain) and six Kagawads ng Sangguniang Barangay (Barangay Councilmen), who shall constitute the presiding officer and members of the Sangguniang Barangay (Barangay Council), respectively, were first elected on 17 May 1982, pursuant to Batas Pambansa Blg. 222. They had a term of six years which began on 7 June 1982.[14] The Local Government Code of 1983[15] also fixed the term of office of local elective officials at six years. Under this Code, the chief officials of the barangay were the punong barangay, six elective sangguniang barangay members, the kabataang barangay chairman, a barangay secretary and a barangay treasurer. The Omnibus Election Code[16] reiterated that barangay officials "shall hold office, for six years," and stated that their election was to be held on the second Monday of May 1988 and on the same day every six years thereafter.[17]

The May 1988 election was reset to November 1988 and every five years thereafter,[18] with the term of office of the barangay officials cut to five years 25 and the punong barangay to be chosen from among themselves by seven kagawads, who in turn were to be elected at large by the barangay electorate.[19] The November 1988 election was again postponed and reset to 28 March 1989[20] and the term of office of barangay officials was to begin on 1 May 1989 and to end on 31 May 1994.[21] The law[22] further provided that "there shall be held a regular election of barangay officials on the second Monday of May 1994 and on the same day every five (5) years thereafter," with a term of five years. Significantly, the manner of election of the punong barangay was changed.[23] While the seven kagawads were to be elected by the registered voters of the barangay, "(t)he candidate who obtains the highest number of votes shall be the punong barangay and in the event of a tie, there shall be a drawing of lots under the supervision of the Commission on Elections."[24]

However, the 5-year term provided in R.A. Nos. 6653 (1988) and 6679 (1988) is contrary to the intent of Congress to limit the term of barangay officials to only three (3) years under Republic Act No. 7160, also known as the Local Government Code of 1991,[25] which provides that the "term of office of barangay officials and members of the sangguniang kabataan shall be for three (3) years."[26]


Term of office of elective local officials

The Constitution provides that the term of office of elective local officials is three (3) years, except barangay officials, which shall be be determined by law. Sec. 8, Article X of the Constitution reads:

Sec. 8. The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years, and no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected.

In David vs. COMELEC,[27] the petitioners made a "novel but nonetheless logically and legally flawed theory that the Constitution, by excepting barangay officials whose "term shall be determined by law" from the general provision fixing the term of "elective local officials" at three years, impliedly prohibits Congress from legislating a three year term for such officers. However, the Constitution did not expressly prohibit Congress from fixing any term of office for barangay officials. It merely left the determination of such term to the lawmaking body, without any specific limitation or prohibition, thereby leaving to the lawmakers full discretion to fix such term in accordance with the exigencies of public service.[28]

Moreover, the Constitutional Commission’s deliberations show that the authority of Congress to legislate relates not only to the fixing of the term of office of barangay officials, but also to the application of the three-term limit.[29]


References

  1. David vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 127116, 8 April 1997. The introduction and concise history of barangay elections are derived from this case, edited to suit this format.
  2. David vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 127116, 8 April 1997, G.R. No. 186616, 20 November 2009, citing Agoncillo and Alfonso, A Short History of the Filipino People, 1961 ed. p. 38; Cushner, Spain in the Philippines, 1971 ed. p. 5
  3. David vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 127116, 8 April 1997, G.R. No. 186616, 20 November 2009, citing historian Conrado Benitez, A History of the Philippines, 1940 ed., p. 119. See also Guerrero, Philippine Society and Revolution, 1971 ed., p. 6
  4. David vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 127116, 8 April 1997, citing Blair and Robertson, the Philippine Islands, 1493-1898, Vol. XVI, pp. 155-157
  5. David vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 127116, 8 April 1997, citing Arcilla, An Introduction to Philippine History, 1971 ed. p. 73
  6. David vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 127116, 8 April 1997, citing Hayden, The Philippines, A Study in National Development, 1950 ed. p. 261 et seq. However, Casiano O. Flores and Jose P. Abletez (Barangay: Its Government and Management, 1989 Ed., p. 3), aver that "the barangays became barrios and components of Spanish pueblos" even prior to the arrival of the Americans.
  7. David vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 127116, 8 April 1997, citing Aruego, Barrio Government Law, 1971 ed., p. 15
  8. Republic Act No. 2370
  9. Republic Act No. 3590, cited in David vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 127116, 8 April 1997
  10. Presidential Decree Nos. 86 and 557, cited in David vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 127116, 8 April 1997
  11. Under Republic Act No. 3590
  12. David vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 127116, 8 April 1997
  13. David vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 127116, 8 April 1997
  14. David vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 127116, 8 April 1997
  15. Batas Pambansa Blg. 337, approved on 10 February 1983
  16. Batas Pambansa Blg. 881
  17. David vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 127116, 8 April 1997
  18. Republic Act No. 6653, cited in David vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 127116, 8 April 1997
  19. David vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 127116, 8 April 1997
  20. Republic Act No. 6679
  21. David vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 127116, 8 April 1997
  22. R.A. 6679
  23. R.A. 6679, Sec. 5
  24. David vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 127116, 8 April 1997
  25. David vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 127116, 8 April 1997
  26. Republic Act No. 7160, Sec. 43(c)
  27. G.R. No. 127116, 8 April 1997
  28. David vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 127116, 8 April 1997
  29. COMELEC vs. Cruz, G.R. No. 186616, 20 November 2009
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