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By: Ador Vincent Mayol, Jessa Mae O. Sotto February 04,2018 - 11:17 PM


Some local officials and leaders of watchdog and militant groups in Cebu are either wary or have backed the decision of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to issue a guide list that will help voters choose the right village officials who will run in the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections scheduled three months from now, or on May 14, 2018.

DILG spokesperson Jonathan Malaya, in a statement released in Manila on Saturday, said the guide would list qualities that would make good village officials like sensibility, efficiency and reliability.

But some prominent Cebuanos have a different take on the DILG plan.

Niño Olayvar, Cebu convenor of the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT), said that the DILG guidelines could influence the outcome of the May 2018 elections.

“If naa may mo release ug (If there is someone who should release) such guide to determine the characteristics of a good leader, it will have to be a neutral entity, perhaps a watchdog. Dili (It should not be a) part of the bureaucracy. Most especially now nga looming ang threat of tyranny,” Olayvar told Cebu Daily News in a text message.

Olayvar said anything that would come from the administration is a cause for concern, “knowing the ongoing trend under the present administration where in the admin(istration) is actually trying to control everything in government.”

Provincial Board (PB) Member Celestino Martinez III, on the other hand, found the DILG plan to be contrary to law.

Martinez, who sits in the PB as president of the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) in Cebu province, said that such a function is not provided for in the Constitution or any election law.

“Actually, dili na siya pwede unless naay constitutional, mandatory basis. Wala man gud na (sa atong constitution),” he said.
(Actually, it should not be done in the absence of a constitutional, mandatory basis. It’s not there [in the constitution].)

Influencing voters’ decision
Jaime Paglinawan, Bayan Central Visayas chairperson, said they would monitor the effects of the DILG issuance to make sure that this would not influence voters decision.

“Amo i-monitor basin pagpabor na sa gisuportahan sa administration ug pagpang daut ni nga list of qualifications sa kontra sa administration (We will monitor this because the issuance of the DILG guideline could be a ploy to favor candidates who are supported by the administration and destroy those who are not),” he said.

Joisa Cesista, Anakbayan Youth Cebu president, said DILG does not have the mandate to tell the voters who to choose in an election.

“Let the people choose who they think would serve them best and genuinely. Sila ang angay magtakda ug sumbanan sa pagpili (They should be the ones who should determine the qualifications of the candidates they want to vote for). That is how democracy and right to suffrage works,” she said.

Cesista said that the role of the DILG, particularly the Philippine National Police (PNP), is to ensure the peaceful and orderly conduct of an election.

Qualities of a good leader
This is the first time for the DILG to come up with a guideline that will help voters in choosing their village and SK officials.

Malaya said one quality that would make a candidate for village chief worth voting for was his knowledge of the powers and functions and the limitations of village watchmen and other village employees.

“First and foremost, we are calling on the public to go out and vote in the coming barangay elections,” he said in a statement.

“Second, choose candidates well so their communities will prosper, be peaceful and safe from the danger of illegal drugs, crime and corruption,” he added.

The DILG spokesperson said the list of qualities of a good village chief will be issued before the elections to serve as a guide for voters and help them choose only candidates who deserve their votes.

Will to serve
Martinez,a Liberal Party ally, said that should the DILG insist on coming up with guidelines in the selection of barangay and SK candidates, they should also do the same to local candidates who will be seeking elective posts in the May 2019 midterm election.

“If they do that to the barangay captains, they might as well do that to mayors, governors and everyone else,” Martinez told CDN in a phone interview on Sunday.

“I wish they do the same for all candidates, not just for the barangay captains because practically it is just the same,” he added.

Martinez said the best measure of a good leader is his will to serve the public.

“Mao gyud nay first and foremost because everything else falls into place,” he said.

Grassroots democracy
But there are also those who welcome the DILG plan.

“I am happy if ila nang tumanon (they will do it),” said Tisa Barangay Captain Philip Zafra, who is also president of the ABC in Cebu City.

“Everybody is welcome to come up with suggestions. But at the end of the day, it is the people who will decide,” he added.

Human rights lawyer Democrito Barcenas also found nothing wrong with the DILG’s issuance of a guide list.

“Barangay and (the) youth elections are grassroots democracy. I welcome the plan of DILG to set the guidelines for qualities of a good leader,” said Barcenas in a text message to CDN.

However, he said, the release of a DILG guideline should be paired with the conduct of an intensified voters education campaign.

“Voters education is needed to remind them (the voters) of the evils of vote buying and political dynasties that control our electoral system,” Barcenas said.

Olayvar, on the other hand, said a candidate that would best represent, especially the marginalized sector of society, is one that would come from amongst them.

“Kana maoy tinuod nga (That is the true) representative of the poor. A leader, not a politician,” he said.

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