After a series of postponements, the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections finally commenced its new flag bearers last October 30. These two were not as manic compared to other national elections. Candidates were few, campaigns were not crusades, and credibility marks more than the promises that come out of one's mouth. There is no guarantee as to whether we could ever find the right leaders to lead our communities to greatness especially since this election might just be another ploy to keep the ball rolling–but one thing is for sure: this is now the time for redemption.
Redemption does not rhyme with disappointment, but the latter is the best word to describe the reality of the situation, especially with the local government structures. Barangay and SK Elections are victory laps for some officials who have no idea as to what kind of job they actually signed up for. As long as it pays, it is all that matters. People go and gamble their prominence for a seat in barangay hall meetings and confabs, whilst being clueless of their positions in the first place.
With over 42,000 barangays in the country electing new leaders, voters had a lot more to be mindful of when it came to choosing such people. A municipality cannot fully render functionality if it isn't in line with what the barangays agree upon. These small-scale decisions make up for the successful rippling effects of LGU-based projects and implementations.
One major aspect of this year's elections is its last conduct being in 2018, where the times were polar opposites. People now are more vocal and critical of government inefficiencies, specifically of the SK. Many have clamored that a basic requirement for an SK candidate should be knowledge of the Philippine Constitution and must at least know how to write a memorandum on their own. Ironically, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) was not very keen on such qualifications nor did they ever try to police it. This resulted in 1.4 million aspiring candidates from last month's filings. Lest we forget, the dissolution of the SK coalition was a major turning point post-2018 elections, after being cited as the training ground for premature corruption, which is a withstanding ailment of this country. If everything goes smoothly this time around, it would be logical for the newly elected officials to do better and finally work their magic for everyone to see.
There is so much wasted potential that ensues in the electoral process. It is greatly equivalent to the ideology of knowing how and why things are constantly being upheld in the wrong and by the risk of getting one's vote bought; but what do we actually want to see? To denote that Barangay and SK Officials are useless is completely bogus, yet the gravity of their work should align with the trust bestowed upon them by their voters. Some have pointed out that these incumbent community officials are only as good as the basketball tournaments and TikTok dance competitions they host for various events; this should be changed into something more sustainable. We're done being entertained, let's try to engage the youth in developmental and welfare-enhancing projects that encourage effectiveness within local government units. For example, out-of-school youths should be given the chance to pursue a fully-funded TESDA education or a livelihood training scholarship, and children ages 4-9 should be more engaged in doing community-based workshops that enhance their skills.
Lastly, what we actually need are officials who want to be elected and would love to do something about their positions. Leadership is a herculean task for the deserving, and we cannot just throw these positions out to those who just want to have the namesake of being a government official on their resume. Hopefully, the demands of the voters will prevail, and all these expectations for better governance will be filled in with qualified and deserving people.
We cannot expect that the next best leader would be in this 1.4 million, but it is never too late for hope and resounding redemption. It would be deja vu to think that the Barangay and SK Elections would be another set of officers doing mediocre. Hopefully, the point of this writing resonates with the new-elects, because just like every other Filipino, we can't take another disappointment.