While militant leftist leaders are usually expected to denounce government policies and programs at a drop of the hat, the mixed reactions from local officials and even some rights advocates on the guidelines released by the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) for voters in selecting their barangay officials may tell something about public sentiment on the issue.
Provincial Board (PB) Member Celestino Martinez III, a known Liberal Party (LP) ally and president of the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) provincial chapter, was understandably wary about the DILG guidelines because he believes there is no constitutional basis for it.
For his part Cebu City Councilor Philip Zafra, concurrent ABC president in Cebu City whose political allegiance straddles between Team Rama and administration party PDP-Laban, welcomes the guidelines saying that everyone can “come up with suggestions” on what qualities constitute a good candidate for barangay official.
That said, the DILG guidelines that will be issued prior to the barangay elections will be accompanied with an official logo which carries with it the weight and imprimatur of a government office that serves at the behest of its chief executive officer who is way above the Interior and Local Governments secretary’s pay grade.
That doesn’t include of course the thousands of pro-administration propagandist bloggers who are paid to fill the news feeds of any Filipino’s social media accounts with “friendly reminders” on who and what kind of barangay official deserves to be voted in the May elections.
Unless President Rodrigo Duterte makes another last minute decision to suspend it anew, or the pro-administration Congress somehow decides to replace the barangay elections with a referendum on their proposed Charter change, then it’s all systems go for the much delayed barangay elections this year.
That said, it pays to be media literate these days owing to the constant bombardment of information, a substantial volume of which are fake news made to deceive the populace.
Couched in seemingly neutral language, a careful perusal from Filipinos will determine the underlying motive behind these voters’ lists which ultimately serve the agenda of the person or group issuing the missive.
Seen in this context, Filipinos can take these DILG guidelines with a grain of salt since they are subjective in the first place.
What the administration considers as candidates qualified to become barangay officials may not be so in the minds and hearts of the Filipino people.
It also doesn’t stop the Church and other vigilant civil society groups from issuing their own guidelines which they have been doing so for the past elections and will continue to do so for as long as elections remain a viable vehicle for choosing the kind of government they think the Filipino people deserve.