The upcoming barangay and SK elections this October 30, 2023 has gathered so much buzz. This year, the Supreme Court has ruled that the postponement of the barangay and SK elections is unconstitutional. This was the talk of the town.

Nonetheless, the aspirants in the local posts to be filled such as punong barangay, barangay kagawad, SK chairperson and members of the SK Council, and of course the citizens, ought to know the basics of the smallest political unit in the Philippine system of government.

Let us begin with the role of the barangay. Expressed in Book III, Title One, Chapter One, Section 384 of the Local Government Code, is as follows: "As the basic political unit, the barangay serves as the primary planning and implementing unit of government policies, plans, programs, projects, and activities in the community, and as a forum wherein the collective views of the people may be expressed, crystallized and considered, and where disputes may be amicably settled."

The section fully spelled out the role of the barangay in our system of government. As the basic political unit, it requires to have a local chief executive in the person of the Punong Barangay with the barangay council who are duly elected by the people who reside within the area.

It is likewise the primary implementing unit of the government. The most apparent example would be during the height of the pandemic. We were able to witness that during the pandemic, it was the barangay officials who were first set out to check on their respective communities. The marching orders from the mayor were cascaded to the barangay officials to properly implement the same. They even set out curfews in their barangays or no-pass zones within their areas. Yes, they can do this. The barangays can implement lawful regulations within their areas only, and all the barangay residents must obey, even those who aren't residents but are transacting within the jurisdiction of the barangay.

Unlike the mayor as local chief executive of his/her city or municipality, who acts only on purely executive functions, the Punong Barangay is a blend of executive, legislative and somewhat judicial functions.

The role of the Punong Barangay.

In Section 389 of the Local Government Code, the powers, duties and functions of the chief executive of the barangay, or otherwise known as the punong barangay, is outlined. He/she primarily enforces the laws and ordinances applicable to his/her barangay. The punong barangay also has the power to negotiate and enter into contracts, to maintain public peace and order, to call and preside over sessions, to prepare the annual budget of the barangay, to approve vouchers relating to barangay disbursements, administer the operation of the katarungang pambarangay, ensure the delivery of basic services, among others. Recently, the punong barangay is given the power to issue barangay protection order when there is a valid application to prevent violence against women and their children.

We can see that the punong barangay is not an easy task. It requires hands on administration of the locality and at the same time, timely response to the needs of the constituents. The punong barangay is not merely a referee to family or neighborhood disputes, nor a sponsor to those who solicit. It is a government function that requires utmost dedication and selfless service.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.