The Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections is well underway and on October 30,
2023 we will know who our next set of village leaders will govern the 42,001 barangays in the country. This is one of the most important political exercises in the country with the exception perhaps of the election to choose the president and vice president. The vital role played by the
barangay leaders in the community plays a crucial factor that sometimes determines whether a particular local government unit is well governed or not.

What is of course problematic is that for the first time in recent memory the new set of barangay officials that will be elected on October 30, 2023 will only serve a term of two years with the next
barangay elections scheduled on the first Monday of December 2025. This is so because of a recent ruling by the Supreme Court which decided that Republic Act 11935 or the law that postponed the December 2022 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections and amended for the purpose
Republic Act No. 9164, as amended.

The High Court in ruling that RA 11935 is unconstitutional declared among others that, one, “the
free and meaningful exercise of the right to vote, as protected and guaranteed by the Constitution, requires the holding of genuine periodic elections which must be held at intervals which are not
unduly long, and which ensure that the authority of government continues to be based on the free
expression of the will of electors,” two, “the Commission on Elections does not have the power to
postpone elections on a nationwide basis.

This power lies with the Congress pursuant to (i) its plenary power to legislate, and (ii) its power to
fix the term of office of barangay officials under Article X, Section 8 of the Constitution. As such, the Congress did not unconstitutionally encroach on the power of the COMELEC to administer elections when it enacted Republic Act No. (RA) 11935. Neither did the provision for “hold-over” capacity amount to an unconstitutional “legislative appointment”, and three, “the case has not been
rendered moot to preclude the exercise by this Court of its judicial review power because RA 11935’s transgression on the people’s right of suffrage is continuing and did not cease upon the lapse of the December 5, 2022 election schedule.

Thus, despite the intervening expiration of the previous election date, the case undoubtedly presents an actual case or controversy that justifies the continued exercise by this Court of its judicial review power.” Because of that Supreme Court decision those that will become new barangay officials this 2023 will have to make do with a two-year term of office. This is where difficult challenges will be encountered by neophyte barangay officials who are entering barangay
governance for the first time.

On the other hand those barangay officials who will be re-elected for this 2-year term but who still have one more term as an elected local official will just gain a bit more knowledge on how to run a
barangay and its constituents. The so called newbies will likely get the surprise of their lives when they realize that the traditional way of running the barangay and the functions and roles of barangay officials have advanced in so many ways and in so many levels that the barangay captain of today will have no similarity whatsoever from the Kapitan del barrio of the past.

Today barangay officials, despite receiving paltry honorariums, have so many responsibilities not only to their constituents and their respective communities but also to the rest of the local
government unit to which they belong be it in a city, municipality or province. Also with the advent of modernization, in concept and practice, barangay officials are compelled to be appraised of the
latest technology or become tech savvy to further augment their capabilities and effectiveness as leaders in the community.

Two years is a very short period of time to serve as a barangay official in the community. To those who will be handling barangay responsibilities for the first time it will take a lot of learning through seminars, lectures, forums and workshops as well as on the ground practice to be able to cope with the many responsibilities of a barangay leader. For first time barangay officials it will be a test of their patience and perseverance to serve their constituents as they empower themselves to govern
their communities. If at all the two year term for the new set of barangay officials will serve only to whet their appetites for either their commitment to continue as a public servant or on the downside, for the power and influence that necessarily attaches to their position as elected local officials.

Amianan Balita Ngayon